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Anonymous Reporting

Report safety, security, or other concerns regarding biohazards.

INTERNAL REPORTING (ANY BIOHAZARD ISSUE, INCLUDING SELECT AGENTS)
EXTERNAL REPORTING (SPECIFIC FOR CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH SELECT AGENTS)

When reporting these issues to the Office of Inspector General (OIG)’s confidential hotline, please ensure that you indicate it is a “Select Agent Complaint" issue.

US Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Inspector General
ATTN: HOTLINE
PO Box 23489
Washington, DC 20026
Phone: 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477)
Fax: 1-800-223-8164
Online: https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/index.asp

United States Department of Agriculture
Office of Inspector General
PO Box 23399
Washington, DC 20026-3399
Phone: (800) 424-9121
Online: https://www.usda.gov/oig/hotline.htm

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

BIOHAZARDS VS OTHER LABORATORY HAZARDS

WHAT IS A BIOHAZARD?

Biohazards are agents of biological origin that may be associated with infection and/or disease. Examples of biohazards include bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, biological toxins, and prions.

Human source materials and human cell lines are included as biohazards because of the potential to carry agents such as HIV, Hepatitis B virus, and Hepatitis C virus, but there are many more examples of pathogens found in human materials.

Note: Infectious is not synonymous with pathogenic. We have many microbes that infect us but do not normally cause disease (ie- commensal organisms). However, even work with microbes that are not normally associated with disease is subject to regulatory oversight.

To learn more about working safely with biological hazards, please check out these links:

If you have any questions about working with biohazards, please contact the Biosafety Office.

WHAT ABOUT HAZARDS THAT ARE NOT BIOHAZARDS?

Aside from biohazards, there are other hazards encountered in the laboratory environment. Examples of other hazards include chemical, fire, and radiation.

QUESTIONS ABOUT TRAINING

WHAT TRAINING IS REQUIRED FOR WORK WITH BIOHAZARDS?

Work with biohazards is regulated by multiple agencies, and therefore multiple trainings may be necessary depending on the type of biohazard.

  • If you are working with microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi), biological toxins, or recombinant/synthetic nucleic acids then you will need to take the Basic Biosafety Training modules. These modules provide an overview of the NIH Guidelines as well as general BSL1 or BSL2 practices. The training must be refreshed every three years. Additional specialized training may be required, depending on your work. For more information, click here to see the training descriptions on the Biosafety website.
  • If you are working with human source material or human cell lines then you will need to take the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Training. This is a separate training from the modules described above. This training is required by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard and must be taken annually. The training is provided by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office rather than by the Biosafety Office. For more information, click here to see the training description on the EHS website and to register for a training session. (Note: Tufts MC personnel will access the Bloodborne Pathogen Training via the Tufts MC intranet)
HOW DO I FIND OR SIGN UP FOR BIOSAFETY TRAINING?

The Biosafety Office has developed NEW training modules that cover basic biosafety for BSL1 and BSL2 work. These new modules are online and can be taken at your convenience. To access these modules, please click here.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY REFRESHER TRAINING IS DUE?

For the trainings offered by the Biosafety Office, you can email the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Office. The IBC Office maintains a database that tracks training for each person and will also send reminders via email when the refresher trainings are due (every three years) to help ensure that you do not forget. Note: these are NEW training modules, developed in 2018, so even if you are not due to refresh your training you should consider browsing the new modules.

For trainings offered by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office, please contact the EHS Office. These trainings are managed separately and are not tracked by the IBC Office. Keep all certificates that you receive as proof of training.

CAN I SCHEDULE AN IN-PERSON TRAINING FOR MY LAB OR GROUP?

Yes!  Please contact the Biosafety Manager to schedule a specialized training session.

HOW TO CONTACT BIOSAFETY OR FIND BIOSAFETY RESOURCES

WHO IS MY BIOSAFETY OFFICER AND HOW DO I CONTACT HIM OR HER?

Click here to find a listing of all the Biosafety staff on our website. You can reach any of us by phone or email.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT HOW TO HANDLE BIOHAZARDS AT TUFTS?

To learn more about working safely with biological hazards, please check out these links:

If you have any questions about working with biohazards, please contact the Biosafety Office.

IN THE PAST, I HAVE REQUESTED INFORMATION OR ACTION FROM THE BIOSAFETY OFFICE AND DID NOT RECEIVE THE APPROPRIATE FOLLOW UP. CAN YOU HELP ME NOW?

Yes! Now that the Biosafety Office has changed and the current staff are new to Tufts, we may not be aware of previous requests for help. Please contact the Biosafety Manager or the Biosafety Officer for your campus (click here for contacts) to let us know what you need.

WE ARE PLANNING A NEW LAB SPACE OR RENOVATION OF AN EXISTING LAB SPACE. DOES THE BIOSAFETY OFFICE NEED TO BE CONSULTED?

Yes, the Biosafety Office should be consulted at the earliest stage of planning. This is necessary to ensure that required safety features are incorporated into the design. Some spaces cannot easily accommodate work with biohazardous materials, so the Biosafety Office should be notified of the type of work to be conducted in the proposed space in order to advise on the feasibility of the proposal. Note that the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office should be consulted in addition to the Biosafety Office, since our offices oversee different areas of safety. If safety requirements are not met, then it is possible that the space cannot be approved for work with biohazardous materials without expensive and time-consuming renovations.
Remember that before you can use any new space for work with biohazards, it must be registered for use and inspected by the Biosafety Office. Please contact us as soon as you know you are moving into a new space so that we can evaluate the space, assist with getting it registered for use, and schedule the inspection.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY WORK NEEDS TO BE REGISTERED WITH THE INSTITUTIONAL BIOSAFETY COMMITTEE (IBC)?

There are a few ways to find out:

  • You can check out the IBC website for an overview of its scope. Click here to go to the IBC website.
  • You can ask a Biosafety Officer. Click here to see a list of staff contacts.
  • You can review the NEW training module the Biosafety Office created to explain what needs to be registered with the IBC and whether you need to wait for IBC approval before you can start the work. Click here to download the NIH Guidelines Awareness Module. (Note: This is a Box link. You cannot preview the module in Box; you must download it and launch it using Powerpoint)
WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION ON HOW TO HANDLE A LAB ACCIDENT?

If the accident involves biohazardous materials, click here to access the Accidents and Incidents tab on the Biosafety website.

Always remember to contact the Biosafety Manager as soon as possible if you have had an accident involving biohazardous materials. Click here for contact information.

If the accident involves a medical emergency, be sure to call Public Safety to receive immediate assistance:

                At Tufts, call 617-627-6911

                At Tufts MC, call 617-636-5100

Also refer to the Tufts Emergency Response Guide for information on how to handle a variety of situations (lab spills, fires, workplace violence, severe weather, and more). Click here to access the Emergency Response Guide online.

QUESTIONS ABOUT CHANGES IN THE BIOSAFETY PROGRAM

IT SEEMS THAT SAFETY STANDARDS HAVE CHANGED SUDDENLY, AND WE ARE BEING ASKED TO CHANGE OUR PROCEDURES, BUY NEW EQUIPMENT, OR MAKE RENOVATIONS TO OUR LAB SPACE. WHY IS THAT?

In the fall of 2015, the Biosafety Office was created within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. This coincided with the hiring of new staff and the development of new processes for oversight of work involving biohazardous materials in order to strengthen the Biosafety Program. The new Biosafety staff all have previous lab experience and collectively our expertise cover a wide range of topics. This expertise will facilitate a better understanding of the research conducted across our institution and the application of the regulations that apply to such work. The developments are part of a coordinated effort to establish a healthy culture of safety across the Tufts campuses and to better align Tufts laboratories with national standards and regulatory requirements.

If you would like more information on the requirements, please consult Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) and the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (Appendix G applies to most labs; Appendix Q applies to work with large animals). These are the sources of our biosafety inspection checklists.

IN THE PAST, I HAVE REQUESTED INFORMATION OR ACTION FROM THE BIOSAFETY OFFICE AND DID NOT RECEIVE THE APPROPRIATE FOLLOW UP. CAN YOU HELP ME NOW?

Yes! Now that the Biosafety Office has changed and the current staff are new to Tufts, we may not be aware of previous requests for help. Please contact the Biosafety Manager or the Biosafety Officer for your campus (click here for contacts) to let us know what you need.

WE ARE PLANNING A NEW LAB SPACE OR RENOVATION OF AN EXISTING LAB SPACE. DOES THE BIOSAFETY OFFICE NEED TO BE CONSULTED?

Yes, the Biosafety Office should be consulted at the earliest stage of planning. This is necessary to ensure that required safety features are incorporated into the design. Some spaces cannot easily accommodate work with biohazardous materials, so the Biosafety Office should be notified of the type of work to be conducted in the proposed space in order to advise on the feasibility of the proposal. Note that the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office should be consulted in addition to the Biosafety Office, since our offices oversee different areas of safety. If safety requirements are not met, then it is possible that the space cannot be approved for work with biohazardous materials without expensive and time-consuming renovations.
Remember that before you can use any new space for work with biohazards, it must be registered for use and inspected by the Biosafety Office. Please contact us as soon as you know you are moving into a new space so that we can evaluate the space, assist with getting it registered for use, and schedule the inspection.

QUESTIONS ABOUT UV LIGHTS

DOES THE UV LIGHT IN A BIOSAFETY CABINET LEAK OUT AND POSE A HAZARD TO PEOPLE STANDING NEARBY?

UV light is easily blocked by the sash of a biosafety cabinet, so as long as the sash is closed, the light poses no hazard to those standing nearby. The light should be shut off before using the cabinet.

WHY CAN’T I USE UV LIGHT AS A METHOD OF DISINFECTING MY BIOSAFETY CABINET?

The Biosafety Office has prepared a small poster to answer these and related common questions. Click here to download the poster from our Resources page.

Some of the factors that preclude the use of UV as a disinfection method:

  • UV light is easily blocked by a thin layer of dust on the light bulb, so unless you clean the bulb daily, chances are that the light is not reaching the work surface of the cabinet.
  • The power output of the light bulb decreases over time, and this is not visible to your eye. So even though you still see the light turn on, what you are seeing are the visible wavelengths, and it is possible that the bulb is not delivering effective UV wavelengths.
  • UV light only works on surfaces that it illuminates; it cannot penetrate through objects to reach shadows or the bottom/sides of an object. That means many areas or objects within a biosafety cabinet will remain contaminated after exposure to UV light.

Collectively, these reasons make UV light unreliable as a method of disinfection. At Tufts, you must choose another method of decontaminating your biosafety cabinet; UV lights should only be used as a supplemental method.

ACCIDENTS AND EMERGENCIES

WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION ON HOW TO HANDLE A LAB ACCIDENT?

If the accident involves biohazardous materials, click here to access the Accidents and Incidents tab on the Biosafety website.

Always remember to contact the Biosafety Manager as soon as possible if you have had an accident involving biohazardous materials. Click here for contact information.

If the accident involves a medical emergency, be sure to call Public Safety to receive immediate assistance:

                At Tufts, call 617-627-6911

                At Tufts MC, call 617-636-5100

Also refer to the Tufts Emergency Response Guide for information on how to handle a variety of situations (lab spills, fires, workplace violence, severe weather, and more). Click here to access the Emergency Response Guide online.