If you work in a field where dangerous microorganisms are your closest co-workers, you’re probably familiar with a biosafety cabinet. These state-of-the-art machines create a safe workspace for those who need to work with these pathogens and materials. If you aren’t following these safety guidelines, though, you could find that your biologically safe space contaminated.
- Only crucial instruments should be placed within the cabinet. The biosafety cabinet relies on the airflow from the filters to keep the atmosphere sanitary within the space. To avoid a disruption in this airflow and cross-contamination, only the equipment that you need for immediate work should be held within the space. Additional supplies should be stored on the outside of the cabinet.
- Clean the cabinet before you begin working. Before each use, the walls, surface, and sash should be wiped with a disinfectant that is approved for the work you’ll be performing. Then allow the cabinet blower to run for at least 5 minutes before placing any organisms or instruments inside. This purges the cabinet of any lingering bacteria or contaminants.
- Wear the proper clothing. Even though the biosafety cabinet is built to de-contaminate the air surrounding the workspace, it’s still important for you to remain sterile throughout your work. Dress yourself in a clean lab coat and disposable gloves and masks before you begin. Never allow your arms to enter the cabinet directly, as this can disrupt the airflow that keeps the environment sterile.
- Sterilize the surface of all tools and containers. Before introducing new objects into the biosafety container, wipe them down with 70% alcohol to reduce the chance of contamination destroying your work.
- Decontaminate when you are done. It’s important to remember that you are working with biohazardous material. Once you are done using the biosafety cabinet, use 70% alcohol to wipe down the cabinet, containers, and cabinet completely. Then, dispose of your gloves and mask in a biohazardous container and place your lab coat in the appropriate bins to be cleaned. This ensures that no contaminants leave the cabinet.