The intent of this communication, reviewed with the University’s Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), is to remind you of safe practices in the laboratory to prevent unnecessary exposure to biological agents. This information should be shared with all research, teaching, and diagnostic lab personnel who work with microorganisms on campus.

Persons working with infectious agents must be aware of potential hazards and be trained and proficient in the practices and techniques required for handling such agents safely. All persons in the lab should be aware that microorganisms used in the laboratories can make you or others who live in your household sick, especially young children, even if they have never visited the laboratory.

  • Please refrain from using or handling cell phones and other personal devices (e.g. headphones, car keys) while working in the in laboratory, or placing them on laboratory work surfaces. Recent lab-associated infections at academic institutions like ours have been related to such use. Please review this short one minute video for safety concerns related to cell phone use in the laboratory.
  • If use of a phone is unavoidable, ensure that the phone is handled with clean hands. Do not handle personal devices with gloved hands.
  • If the laboratory possesses a dedicated lab phone, please designate that phone as CLEAN or DIRTY and provide signage that clearly identifies the phone as such. CLEAN phones should never be handled with gloves, and DIRTY phones should never be handled without gloves.
  • On a related note, be aware that if you work in a laboratory, it is possible for you to bring microbes home through contaminated lab coats, pens, notebooks, and other items that you use in the laboratory. Avoid taking laboratory supplies outside of the laboratory to limit such contamination.

Thank you for your participation in driving the Culture of Safety at UNC-Chapel Hill. For any questions regarding this communication, please contact Garry Coulson, Biological Safety Officer, Environment Health and Safety, at garry.coulson@ehs.unc.edu or 919-962-5722.

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