Microbiology Laboratory Safety Rules

Microbiology Laboratory Safety Rules

  1. Never work alone in the laboratory without permission and prior knowledge of the instructor.
  2. Do not engage in rowdy, playful, or unprofessional activities in the laboratory. This includes not being disrespectful of your instructor or classmates.
  3. Work surfaces must be disinfected at the beginning and at the end of every laboratory period.
  4. All students must wash their hands at the beginning of lab and at the end of every laboratory period.
  5. No eating or drinking is permitted in the laboratory. No open food or beverage can be taken into the laboratory.
  6. Lab benches are to be kept free of extraneous items while conducting experiments. This includes personal items such as backpacks, cell phones, and unnecessary books.
  7. Students must wear closed-toe shoes that cover the top of the foot, and appropriate clothing, at all times in the laboratory.
  8. Students must wear examination gloves when handling microorganisms. Wear lab aprons or lab coats as advised by your instructor. Wear safety glasses when handling bacterial broth cultures, doing Gram stains, and as otherwise advised by your instructor.
  9. Keep hands away from your face, eyes, and mouth when working with chemicals or microorganisms. This includes not applying cosmetics, not adjusting contact lenses, and not biting your finger nails.
  10. If any chemicals or other agents splash into your eyes, immediately go to the nearest sink and flush your eyes with water.
  11. Take special precaution when working with open flames. Loose hair, clothing, dangling jewelry, and nearby paper must be secured. Do not leave a heat source (hot plate or Bunsen burner) unattended. Keep containers of alcohol, acetone, or other flammable liquids at a safe distance from flames.
  12. Report ANY and ALL accidents, spills, BREAKAGES, or injuries to the instructor, no matter how trivial they appear.
  13. Any pregnant or immunocompromised student must notify the instructor of the course. A pregnant student is required to wear safety glasses and 2 sets of examination gloves when handling any bacterial broths or cultures.
  14. Do not remove cultures, reagents, or other materials from the laboratory unless specific permission from the instructor has been granted.
  15. Do not use any lab equipment without instruction and authorization from the instructor.   Report any damaged or broken equipment to your instructor immediately.
  16. Students must assume that all of the organisms that they work with in this laboratory are potential pathogens (disease-producing microbes). However, this laboratory does not require the use of any highly infectious human pathogens. Bacterial culture material used in this lab can include the following organisms: Bacillus subtilis, Corynebacterium xerosis, Enterobacter cloacae, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Lactobacillus casei, Micrococcus luteus, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonoas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhimurium, Serratia marcescens, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis, and Streptococcus mutans.  All stock cultures are purchased commercially.

Disposal Policies

  1. Any student laboratory manual or personal papers that are soiled with bacterial culture material CANNOT be taken out of the laboratory room. On a one time basis, the department will supply a replacement lab book or photocopied pages.
  2. Students are to tape closed bacterial plate cultures and then place them into the designated location for disposal. Students also are to place all capped bacterial broth cultures and slant tubes in the designated location for disposal.
  3. Students are to dispose of uncontaminated broken glassware in the marked cardboard box container. Broken glass containers are ONLY to be used for broken glass. Always use a broom and dust-pan if asked to clean up broken glassware.
  4. Students are to dispose of used slides in the glass container labeled “Used Slides”. Students are to dispose of broken contaminated glass tubes also in the glass container labeled “Used Slides”.
  5. Biohazardous wastes must be disposed in a biohazard waste container.
  6. While wearing examination gloves, students must not leave the laboratory and must not touch any equipment such as microscopes, any personal items such as cell phones, or any door knobs.
  7. Uncontaminated gloves can be disposed of in the regular trash. Contaminated gloves must be disposed of in a biohazard waste container.


  1. It is important that each student develops proper techniques so that you will not contaminate your work or infect yourself or others.
  2. Flame all wire loops and needles before and immediately after transfer of cultures.
  3. Each student must demonstrate competency at using aseptic techniques by making a streak plate that has uncontaminated culture before they will be allowed to handle bacterial broths.
  4. Each student will leave the laboratory clean and organized for the next lab section. Leave your work area as clean, or cleaner, than you found it and return lab items to the designated locations in the drawers or cabinets. Make sure waste and trash are placed in the appropriate receptacles. Be sure to collect all personal belongings before leaving for the day.
  5. Each student is required to affirm at the end of the on-line safety quiz the following statement: “I have reviewed and I understand the laboratory safety rules for this course. I understand that I can be dismissed from that day’s lab activity for not wearing proper shoes and clothing, or for not following proper safety procedures. I understand that repeated safety violations may result in dismissal from the rest of the laboratory exercises without the option to make up any missed laboratory grades”. Out of safety concerns, a student will not be allowed to participate in any laboratories if s/he cannot agree to this statement.