Health and Safety      College of Science and Engineering (COSE)

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The College of Science and Engineering (COSE) has established a Biosafety Committee to oversee the use of potentially biohazardous or restricted materials. The COSE Biosafety Plan includes requirements for safely handling biological materials and a process for registering biohazardous or restricted materials. 



Standard Microbiological Practices

Standard Microbiological Practices refer to the basic safe laboratory work protocols for working with non-pathogenic biological materials (i.e., BSL-1). Laboratory personnel must have specific training in the procedures conducted in the laboratory. A qualified faculty or staff person must provide this training and provide sufficient supervision to adequately operate a safe and compliant laboratory.

Work is generally conducted on open bench tops using the following standard microbiological practices.


1. Hygiene and Housekeeping

Keeping work areas clean and uncluttered reduces the chance for cross-contamination and inadvertent exposure to biohazards. To avoid ingestion of contaminated material, use a mechanical pipetting device, keep food out of refrigerators and microwaves in work areas, eat, drink, or apply cosmetics only in designated “clean” areas. Other standard practices include:

  • Wear a lab coat and tie back long hair
  • Wash hands after removing gloves, before leaving the lab, and when handling materials known or suspected to be contaminated.
  • Perform procedures in a manner that minimizes the creation of aerosols.
  • Clean work surfaces and decontaminate with a suitable disinfectant at the end of the day and after any spill of potentially hazardous materials.
  • Bench tops and floors should be impervious to water and easy to clean.
  • Remove gloves before leaving the lab, touching the face, keyboards, or control panels, and before using the elevator

2. Personal Protective Equipment

  • Wear gloves if skin on the hand is broken, if a rash is present, and when handling biological waste.
  • Remove rings or other jewelry that could puncture gloves.
  • Wear the appropriate glove for the hazard. Usually a type of latex glove is recommended for working with biological material.
  • Avoid reusing gloves unless they can be decontaminated.
  • Wear eyewear approved for UV light or other rays that could damage eyes.
  •  Wear protective eyewear during procedures in which splashes of microorganisms or other hazardous materials is anticipated.

3. Security and Access

Access to the laboratory should be restricted at the discretion of the laboratory manager when experiments or work with cultures and specimens are in progress. Biohazardous material must be clearly marked with a biohazard symbol




Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

If you can reasonably anticipate facing contact with human blood and/or other potentially infectious materials as part of your job duties, you should receive additional training from your instructor or supervisor including an opportunity for interactive questions and answers. Questions about the SFSU Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Plan should be directed to Campus EHOS at 415.338.1449.

A. What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria that are carried in blood and can cause disease in people. There are many different bloodborne pathogens including malaria, syphilis, and brucellosis, but Hepatitis B (HBV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are the two diseases specifically addressed by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. However, it is important to know which bloodborne pathogens (from humans or animals) you may be exposed to at work, especially in laboratories.

B. Since I don’t work in a hospital, how could I potentially be exposed to bloodborne pathogens at work?

  • Providing first aid or CPR assistance to an infected individual
  • Cleaning up blood, vomit, or other bodily fluids
  • Drawing blood in class
  • Working with unpreserved human or animal cadavers

C. What are some things I can do to protect myself?

It is extremely important to use personal protective equipment and work practice controls to protect yourself from exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

  • Universal Precautions: A prevention strategy, in which all blood and potentially infectious materials are treated as if they are, in fact, infectious. In other words, whether or not you think the blood/body fluid is infected with bloodborne pathogens, you treat it as if it is.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: To protect yourself, it is essential to have a barrier between you and the potentially infectious material. This includes wearing impermeable gloves, eye protection, and sometime mouth coverings such as a mask or CPR shield.
  • Hand washing: This is one of the most important (and easiest) practices used to prevent transmission of bloodborne pathogens. Hands or other exposed skin should be thoroughly washed as soon as possible following an exposure incident. Avoid harsh, abrasive soaps, as these may open fragile scabs or other sores.

D.  What if I swallowed or got splashed with blood or other bodily fluids?

If you believe you have been exposed to potentially infectious blood or bodily fluids, contact campus EHOS at 415.339.1449 or COSE Health and Safety Office at 415.338.6892 to report the incident. You have the right to be medically evaluated by the University physician and to be offered the Hepatitis B vaccine series (HBV shot). The HBV vaccine can still be effective in preventing infection up to 24 hours following the exposure incident.

Although your employer must offer the vaccine to you, you do not have to accept that offer. You may opt to decline the vaccination series, in which case you will be asked to sign the HBV Declination form. This does not impact any future decisions following another exposure incident. For more details about the vaccine, please contact Campus EHOS at x8-1449.




More Information




Bloodborne Pathogen Program







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