Research/Biosafety Programs and Services
Research Safety and Biosafety focuses on management and regulatory compliance involving the research laboratories at The Ohio State University. This group supports the research goals of the university while promoting a safe working environment.
Recorded Research Laboratory Safety meetings are available online through Microsoft Teams. View video access instructions for more information.
Please visit our staff directory for department contact information.
A laboratory animal facility (vivarium) is an extension of the research laboratory, and all requirements for work with biohazardous agents and toxic chemicals in the research laboratory are applicable to work in the animal facility. All animal work at the University shall be in compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (2010 revision) and the Laboratory Animal Welfare Regulations [Animal Welfare Act] (9 CFR Subchapter A, Parts 1, 2 and 3). All research involving animals is subject to prior review by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
• Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
• University Lab Animal Resources (ULAR)
• OSU Policy: Individual Investigator Use of Controlled Substances in Research
• Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW)
• American Association for Laboratory Animal Sciences (AALAS)
• Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Guide)
Description - The Biosafety Program focuses on compliance issues involving the receipt, use and shipment of biohazards at The Ohio State University.
Program Info - Biohazards are defined as infectious agents (i.e., pathogens) or materials produced by living organisms that may cause disease in other living organisms. This definition encompasses not only the human pathogens, but also materials that may contain such pathogens (human-, non-human primate-, and other animal- and plant-sourced materials) that can cause disease in humans, animals or plants.
Although the implementation of safety procedures is mainly the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI), success in biosafety depends upon the combined efforts of everyone in the laboratory. Planning for and implementation of biological safety must be part of every laboratory activity in which biohazard materials are used.
The Institutional Biosafety Manual provides the university-wide safety guidelines, policies, and procedures for the use and manipulation of biohazards. The OSU Biosafety program consolidates the compliance programs for the Public Employment Risk Reduction Program adoption of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), the OSHA Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratory (29 CFR 1910.1450), the OSHA Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910. 1030), the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules (NIH Guidelines) and the CDC/NIH publication Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (5th edition). Additionally, the Institution’s Safety Management Guidebook provides University policies for medical surveillance, sharps injuries, and working alone that are to be followed by all principal investigators and laboratory personnel.
These program policies apply to all OSU faculty, staff, hosted visitors, students, participating guests and volunteers, contract laborers, supplemental personnel and employees of firms working at locations where the University has management control of specific biohazards.
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Bloodborne Pathogens Program
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms present in the blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens” (29 CFR 1910.1030) requires employers to implement safeguards to protect workers against the health hazards associated with blood and other potentially infectious materials. The OSHA standard covers all employees who could be "reasonably anticipated" to have an eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral (e.g. needle stick) contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) while performing their job duties. Workers that may have exposure to blood or OPIM include, but are not limited to nurses, research lab associates, laboratory technologists, first responders, and physicians.
The OSHA standard requires the employer to:
- Establish an exposure control plan. This is a written plan to eliminate or minimize occupational exposures. The employer must prepare an exposure determination that contains the list of job classifications in which some workers have occupational exposure, along with a list of the tasks and procedures performed by those workers that result in their exposure.
- The Exposure Control Plan must be updated annually to reflect changes in tasks, procedures, and positions that affect occupational exposure, and also technological changes that eliminate or reduce occupational exposure. The Exposure Control Plan can be located under the "Manuals" tab at the top of the EHS Home page.
- Implement the use of universal precautions (treating all human blood and OPIM as if known to be infectious for bloodbourne pathogens)
- Identify and ensure the use of work practice controls. These are devices that isolate or remove bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace. They include sharps containers, self sheathing needles, safer medical devices and needleless systems.
- Identify and ensure the use of work practice controls. These are practices that reduce the possibility of exposure by changing the way a task is performed, such as appropriate practices for handling and disposing of contaminated sharps, handling specimens and cleaning contaminated or potentially contaminated surfaces and items.
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, eye protection, and masks.
- Make available hepatitis B vaccinations to all workers with occupational exposure. The vaccination must be offered after the worker has received bloodborne pathogen training and within 10 days of initial assignment.
- Make available post-exposure evaluation and follow-up to any exposure incident. An exposure incident is a specific eye, mouth, other mucus membrane, non-intact skin, or parenteral contact with blood or OPIM. The route of the exposure and the circumstances under which the exposure occurred must be documented.
- Use labels and signs to communicate hazards. Warning labels must be affixed to regulated waste, refrigerators, freezers containing blood or OPIM
- Provide information and training to workers. Employers must ensure workers receive training that covers all elements of the standard. Training must be done annually. The on-line bloodborne pathogen intital training and the refresher training can be found under the training tab.
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Chemical Hygiene Plan / Lab Standard Program
The Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard (29 CFR § 1910.1450) defines the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) as a written program developed and implemented by the employer which sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that are capable of protecting employees from health effects associated with hazardous chemical use in the laboratory. EHS maintains a generic CHP for use by university laboratories. The plan applies to all employees working in laboratories involving use of hazardous chemicals. Personnel covered by the plan should be familiar with the CHP and have continuous access.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are required by Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) laboratory standard section (1910.1450(e3i)) to be developed and maintained by individual laboratories. The Chemical Hygiene Plan must contain “Standard Operating Procedures relevant to safety and health considerations to be followed when laboratory work involves the use of hazardous chemicals.” Laboratories in conjunction with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) must perform a hazard assessment of the laboratory procedures to determine which SOPs must be developed. At a minimum a laboratory must have laboratory specific SOPs for the chemical and biological hazards and any agents which are used in approved animal studies.
The Online Chemical Hygiene Plan will allow users to store, review, manage and print their CHP. Based on the chemicals and/or equipment in use users may be required to upload copies of their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
LOGIN TO CHEMICAL HYGIENE PLAN(LINK IS EXTERNAL)
Contents of the Chemical Hygiene Plan
Site specific information must be added to the plan by the Principal Investigator (PI) or laboratory designee. This information includes but is not limited to:
- Laboratory locations - including building(s) and room(s).
- Standard Operating Procedures(SOP’s) - Chemicals or Operations requiring prior approval must include a laboratory specific SOP.
- Location of safety materials - This includes the CHP and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
- Training records - Training records should include both required training (ex: Laboratory Standard Training) and site specific training (ex: Training to a lab centrifuge). At minimum training records must include, name, date and topic.
- Updates - The CHP must be updated annually or as changes occur in the laboratory.
- Chemical inventory - A current hard copy of must be present in the laboratory. All chemical inventories are to be kept in the EHS Assist online chemical inventory system.
- Tables & Appendices - A complete CHP must contain current copies of all tables and appendices relating to the plan.
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Description - Chemical safety involves all phases of chemical use from procurement, storage, transportation, manipulation, decontamination and disposal.
Program Info: Before working with any new chemical, personnel should start by familiarizing themselves with the hazards and potential risks associated with the chemical. The chemical's toxicological and physical hazards should be evaluated and the appropriate precautions taken to eliminate or reduce the inherent risks. There are a number of considerations and resources that should be reviewed when assessing the hazards of a new chemical.
Chemical Substitution: Consider substituting or replacing a toxic material with one that is considered less hazardous. Substituting can be successfully used and is a practical method for eliminating a chemical hazard.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) - Manufactures and distributors of chemicals must provide an SDS with every chemical. SD Sheets include much of the necessary information needed to begin a hazard assessment and should be reviewed before starting any new chemical work. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) provides access to an online searchable SDS database of more than 6 million original vendor SDS’s called ChemWatch.
Training - Training is a critical part of the chemical safety process. Training should be provided prior to beginning any new laboratory activity and should provide personnel the information needed to perform the required task safely. All training weather required or specific to the task should be documented. A number of online chemical safety related training topics can be found on our training page.
Engineering Controls - The primary method of controlling a chemical hazard involves the implementation and use of engineering controls. Engineering controls remove the hazard by isolating, enclosing or ventilation. The most common type of engineering control found in laboratories is a chemical fume hood.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - The decision to use any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should first start by reading the chemicals MSDS. Examples of PPE include gloves, eye protection, body protection (Ex. lab coats) and respiratory protection (Ex. respirators or dust masks). EHS provides risk assessment services including PPE evaluations for assistance with choosing the appropriate PPE for the task or chemical hazard.
Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) - When applicable laboratories should develop a Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). A CHP is a written program developed and implemented by the employer which sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that are capable of protecting employees from the health and physical hazards presented by hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory. EHS maintains a generic CHP for general laboratory use; site specific information should also be included. The CHP must be updated annually or as changes occur in the laboratory. Personnel covered by the plan should be familiar with the information and have continuous access.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) - Standard Operating Procedure (SOP’s) provide written documentation of specific processes, operation or analysis. The development and use of SOP’s promote consistent execution of a process or procedure, regardless of temporary or permanent personnel changes. SOP’s also ensure conformance to good laboratory practices, reduce work error, improve safety, data comparability, credibility, and defensibility. Much of the necessary planning and preparation of a new experiment should be outlined using an SOP.
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Biosafety Cabinets - Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs) are the primary means of containment for working safely with infectious materials and/or aerosol generating procedures. Class II BSCs are designed to provide personnel, product, and environmental protection by using high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in their exhaust and supply systems.
Laboratory Ventilation Devices (Fume Hoods, Local Exhaust Hoods) - The chemical fume hood is a primary safety device used to protect laboratory workers from chemical exposure, fires, or explosions. The Fume Hood protects the user from flammable, toxic or offensive chemicals by providing an enclosed work area or barrier between the user and the hazardous material.
Field Research Safety
Laboratory Accident Investigations
Accidents, incidents or near-misses which occur in a laboratory setting should be reported to a supervisor and Environmental Health and Safety so that an investigation can be initiated. Accident investigations enable laboratory employees to identify the source of any accidents or near misses. These investigations provide the user access to the root cause of incidents and aid in additional training or controls to minimize future occurrences.
Near misses can be internally investigated to control future hazards. Accident or incident investigations help to uncover hazards which were missed during initial job hazard analysis or indicate a procedure which could be altered to a safer control. Accidents and Incidents where property has been damaged, a user has been injured or a fatality has occurred must be investigated by Environmental Health and Safety.
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Laboratory Hazard Evaluation
Research Safety staff provide hazard evaluation services to laboratories. The primary goal of a hazard evaluation is to ensure that potentially hazardous operations are carried out safely. A hazard evaluation should be conducted prior to beginning new research experiments with hazardous agents or operations. Please complete a Laboratory Hazard Evaluation service request if EHS assistance is required.
Laboratory Inspections - EHS Site Visits
Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) conducts routine university wide laboratory safety inspections with the intent to reduce risk, determine compliance with Federal and State regulations and to promote a culture of safety. Inspections encompass chemical, biological and hazard communication topics and are conducted in the presence of a laboratory employee familiar with the operations. Inspections are announced and often times scheduled with the process typically taking between 20 to 40 minutes. Each year laboratories are encouraged to obtain a copy of the revised laboratory safety checklist and to perform periodic self-inspections. The self-inspection process allows groups the opportunity to raise awareness to the risks while promoting a safety culture with the laboratory.
The results of the inspections are shared directly with researchers and departments assisting them in identifying strengths and weaknesses in their laboratory safety programs. EHS uses the information to help focus resources on reducing risk and on developing and implementing strategies that will increase compliance with State and Federal regulations. Please contact EHS for questions or to schedule a laboratory safety inspection.
Receipt, Responses and Follow-up to Inspection Items - Following the inspection process EHS provides the Principal Investigator (PI) with an email detailing any necessary inspection follow-up. When noted deficiencies are found, the P.I. must acknowledge receipt of the inspection report by responding with a corrective action plan using the web-based EHS Assist (EHSA) system within 15 calendar days as to the status of compliance issues. Correspondence using the EHSA system is necessary for documentation and provides a means of communicating to the status of pending action items. Checklist items considered to be a significant risk are required to be reviewed by the designated inspector. EHS understands that some issues may take additional time and resources to correct, however, the written corrective action plan should be submitted within 15 calendar days. Once all action items have been completed the P.I. will receive an email indicating the inspection is considered closed.
Each building is assigned an inspector to conduct the laboratory inspections.
College of Engineering
College of Arts & Sciences (except Anthropology, EEOB, Geology, Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, PAES, Psychology)
College of Medicine (Rightmire)
College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (Columbus Campus)
Rothenbuhler Bee Lab
College of Medicine (Comprehensive Cancer Center CCC, Graves Tzagournis MRF)
College of Dentistry
College of Medicine (Davis Center, Doan, DHLRI, McCampbell, Polaris, Starling-Loving)
College of Education and Human Ecology
College of Arts and Sciences (Geology, PAES, Psychology)
Biological Research Tower (BRT), L-TRIP (Kinnear), ULAR, Goss Labs
Peach Point/Stone Labs
Wetlands Research Park
OARDC Radiation Labs
College of Nursing
College of Public Health
College of Medicine (Care Point East, Dermatology East and West, Hospital Facilities)
College of Pharmacy
College of Arts & Sciences (EEOB, Microbiology, Molecular Genetics)
College of Optometry
Vet Medical Center
Laboratory Manager Mentoring Program
The Laboratory Manager Mentoring program helps connect new lab managers with experts in the field who have experience in overseeing laboratory operations and safety management. The program matches prospective lab manager mentees with lab manager mentors who may work in the same department or building or who may have similar lab environments or research interests.
In research facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE) is used to help prevent employee exposure to hazards; this includes physical, chemical and biological hazards. Personal protective equipment is not a substitute for engineering controls, administrative controls or safe operating procedures, but is used in conjunction with these controls. Common examples of PPE include chemical resistant gloves, latex gloves, chemical splash goggles, safety glasses, lab coats, aprons, face shields, respirators and hearing protection, just to name a few.
How PPE is selected, cared for, and used is governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) through several federal standards. The standards most applicable to research are the Laboratory Standard (CFR 1910.1450) and the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (CFR 1910.1030). These standards include a personal protective equipment provision. Other standards that may apply to research facilities include the following:
• General Requirements (CFR 1910.132)
• Eye and Face Protection (CFR 1910.133)
• Respirator Protection (CFR 1910.134)
• Head Protection (CFR 1910.135)
• Occupational Foot Protection (CFR 1910.136)
• Electrical Protective Equipment (CFR 1910.137)
• Hand Protection (CFR 1910.138)
• Hearing Conservation (CFR 1910.95)
• Confined Space Entry (CFR 1910.120) Provision for PPE
• Lock-out/Tag-out (CFR 1910.147) Provision for PPE
Requirements for Research Facilities - Regardless of the standard or standards that apply to your facility, all areas are required to conduct a hazard assessment to identify potential hazards and determine what PPE is necessary. Once the appropriate PPE has been selected, the employer is required to purchase the PPE, provide training on the proper use and care of the PPE and document the hazard assessment and employee training.
The employee is required to wear the PPE, inspect it for damage, inform supervisors when PPE is defective or damaged, and perform proper maintenance and storage.
Personal Protective Equipment Selection - All of the PPE standards require that personal protective equipment “shall be of a safe design”, meaning all PPE shall meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) design standards. The PPE Selection Guide provides selection information (including ANSI designation), care and storage information, and information on how to use and inspect PPE.
“Safe design” also means researchers will select the most effective chemical resistant glove based on manufacturers’ chemical resistance data. The associated links provide selection guides for several glove manufacturers.
- Do not take laboratory coats home for cleaning. You can hire a laundry service, wash them on site, or discard them.
- When possible, substitute or use the least hazardous material available.
- When using personal protective equipment brought from home, inform your supervisor and make sure it meets ANSI requirements.
For additional information or assistance contact your Environmental Health and Safety Representative or call EHS at 292-1284.
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Laboratory Waste Management
The Ohio State University Office of Environmental Health and Safety has developed a robost program for the management of chemical and biological waste generated by university operations. The purpose of the program is to protect the safety of our students, employees and visitors, protect the environment and to comply with federal state and local regulations. The flowcharts below are inteded to provide laboratory personnel with basic guidance on how to properly dispose of waste commonly generated by laboratories. Click on a link to learn more!
• Biohazardous Waste Disposal Flowchart
• Carcass Waste Disposal Flowchart
• Chemical Waste Disposal Flowchart
• Films and Processing Solutions Waste Disposal Flowchart
• Gels and Buffers Waste Disposal Flowchart
• Lab Glass Waste Disposal Flowchart
• Radioactive Waste Disposal Flowchart
• Sharps Waste Disposal Flowchart
Mercury Thermometer Exchange
Environmental Health and Safety has developed a mercury thermometer recycling program to help eliminate mercury and its associated health and environmental hazards. The USEPA has identified mercury as one of their waste minimization priority chemicals, making the reduction of mercury a priority. The reduction in use of mercury is both a U.S. priority and international priority. Other benefits include a reduction in costs associated with the cleanup and disposal of mercury and contaminated equipment, and less down time in research and teaching labs as spills are cleaned up. There is a proposed legislative bill in Congress that would begin the process of mercury elimination and management nationwide. The Ohio State University is in a position to reduce or eliminate mercury prior to the implementation of federal mandates and supports the USEPA push to reduce mercury waste.
Researcher Resources and Consultations
Research Safety staff provide consultation services to new principal investigators, existing laboratories and staff members throughout the university community. Our consultation services encompass a broad range of topics which include laboratory safety, new laboratory set up, assistance with biosafety protocols and procedures, and laboratory waste management. Please complete a Researcher Consultation service request to schedule a consultation site visit.
EHS provides laboratory room signs for all Ohio State research labs. Please complete the Room Sign Request, providing the applicable information, and a laminated room sign will be sent to you via campus mail.
Standard Operating Procedures
What is a Standard Operating Procedure?
A Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP, is a written safety and health document that describes potential hazards and provides the detailed steps needed to mitigate these potential hazards as experiments are performed. SOPs should be developed when the associated hazards have the potential to cause personal injury, property damage, or loss of productivity. SOP’s should be written to include general and laboratory-specific procedures for work involving hazardous chemicals.
Why are Standard Operating Procedures required?
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are required as part of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Laboratory Standard 1910.1450(e)(3)(i). One component of the Laboratory Standard is the maintenance of a Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). Included in the CHP are written Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
What defines a Hazardous Chemical?
As defined by the Hazard Communication Standard 1910.1200, a Hazardous chemical is any chemical classified as a physical hazard or a health hazard, a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas, or hazard not otherwise classified.
Chemicals Classified as a Health Hazard pose as one of the following hazardous effects: acute toxicity (any route of exposure); skin corrosion or irritation; serious eye damage or eye irritation; respiratory or skin sensitization; germ cell mutagenicity; carcinogenicity; reproductive toxicity; specific target organ toxicity (single or repeated exposure); or aspiration hazard.
Chemicals Classified as a Physical Hazard pose as one of the following hazardous effects: explosive; flammable (gases, aerosols, liquids, or solids); oxidizer (liquid, solid or gas); self-reactive; pyrophoric (liquid or solid); self-heating; organic peroxide; corrosive to metal; gas under pressure; or in contact with water emits flammable gas.
How does a laboratory determine if a SOP is needed?
Laboratories should perform a hazard assessment of their processes and procedures to determine which SOPs need be developed. Prior to conducting work, review all Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and relevant literature to determine the physical and health hazards associated with chemicals or process. Considerations should be given to the inherent hazards of the materials, process, scale, experience level of the personnel involved, and the specific steps that will be taken to mitigate the identified hazards. For example, when manipulating hazardous chemicals as part of a reaction where will the work be conducted and what Personal Protective Equipment will be required?
What information should be included in a Standard Operating Procedure?
Once a hazard assessment has been performed to determine which SOPs need to be developed, it is important to determine the relevant information to include. Any SOP can be amended to include supplemental information as needed.
The following information is an outline of what should be included in a SOP:
- The purpose and name of the SOP (Chemical, Operation, Process or Generic).
- A brief description of the work being conducted.
- Occupational exposure effects associated with the chemical or process. For example, does the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) identify the potential hazards of the chemical as toxic, flammable, or reactive etc.? Are there any warning properties or symptoms of exposure, this information can be located on the SDS.
- Handling & Preparation Instructions
- Instructions or Operation (Operational SOP Only)
- Storage requirements and a description of how these requirements will be met.
- Engineering Controls and the location(s) of use. For example, if an engineering control is required is there a specific chemical hood or device designated within the laboratory?
- Specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required.
- Descriptions of spill and decontamination procedures.
- Descriptions of how waste will be collected, stored, and disposed.
- Identify emergency, first aid and life safety equipment availability.
When is a laboratory-specific SOP required or appropriate?
Once a hazard assessment has been performed and it is determined the work will involve the use of high-risk chemicals or procedures; lab-specific SOP’s will need to be developed. To identify high risk chemicals or procedures , consider chemicals that pose acute health or immediate physical hazards, past accidents or incidents, process conditions that pose immediate danger, the scale (volumes) of the chemicals used, and chemicals that have documented long-term health effects. Laboratory-specific SOP’s should detail how the work will be conducted safely and how hazards will be mitigated within the laboratory.
When is a general SOP required or appropriate?
Once a hazard assessment has been performed and it has been determined the work will not be considered high-risk, general SOP’s can be developed. When identifying items that can be covered in a general SOP consider chemicals with similar hazards, physical properties and will be used in a similar manner. One example would include the use of organic solvents with similar properties and flammable range, or mineral acids with similar properties and risk. To identify these items, consider general health or immediate physical health effects, past accidents or incidents, process conditions that do not pose immediate danger, the scale (volumes) of the chemicals used, and chemicals that do not have documented long-term health effects. General SOP’s should detail how the work will be conducted safely and how hazards will be mitigated within the laboratory.