Safety, Risk and Sustainability

Health and Safety

Biological Spill Procedures

Most spills can be effectively handled by laboratory staff and faculty. Supplies to properly clean a spill must be available in any lab that works or stores bio-hazardous materials.

Recommended supplies

  • An appropriate disinfectant which works against the agents of concern (ex. microorganisms or human-derived materials). For cleanup of larger spills, alcohol is NOT recommended due to flammability concerns.
  • Personal protective equipment including a laboratory coat/gown, and gloves. Additional PPE may be required.
  • Sharps container for collection of broken glass
  • Tongs or forceps to pick up broken glass
  • Autoclave bags.

Spill protocol

Administer first aid and seek medical attention.

Small spills

Wipe up with disinfectant-soaked paper towel and clean the surface with a suitable disinfectant.

Spills not inside of a containment device

If the spill is not inside a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) or any other lab equipment.

  • If the spill involves an aerosol, instruct everyone in laboratory to leave room for 30 minutes to allow aerosols to settle. Place a sign on the door warning staff not to enter room due to a spill.
  • Remove contaminated clothing and wash exposed skin.
  • Put on clean gloves and lab coat.
  • Prepare a 1:10 dilution of chlorine bleach or other approved disinfectant to saturate the contaminated area.
  • Contain the spill with paper towels or other absorbent material.
  • Flood the spill with disinfectant, leave for 10 minutes.
  • Work the absorbent into the spill's center. Add more if needed.
  • If glass is present, use tongs or forceps and a dustpan to remove piece and place into a puncture resistant sharps container.
  • Discard absorbent in a bio-hazardous waste container.
  • Using clean paper towels and disinfectant, wipe all surfaces that may have come in contact with the spilled material again. Discard into biohazard waste container.
  • Discard gloves into biohazard container.
  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Notify supervisor.

Spills inside a biological safety cabinet (BSC)

  • Leave Cabinet on.
  • Put on gloves and lab coat, and gather paper towels for cleaning.
  • Prepare a fresh dilution of 1:10 chlorine bleach or approved disinfectant. Prepare enough solution to cover the entire contaminated area. Do not use ethanol.
  • Flood the area with disinfectant and allow to remain in contact for required time. In the case of a 1:10 bleach solution, it requires 10 minutes of contact time.
  • Spray and/or wipe down the cabinet's interior and any items inside the BSC with a paper towel dampened with disinfectant.
  • If the cabinet has a catch basin under the work surface, and the spill resulted in liquids flowing into this area, additional decontamination is required.

Spills inside a centrifuge

Spills inside a centrifuge pose a serious potential for exposure due to aerosols.

Contact AEHS (X4630) for advice on personal protective equipment for spills.