Biosafety Frequently Asked Questions

Topics
Training
Personal Protective Equipment
Protocols
BOHP
Shipments
Equipment
Biohazardous Waste

 

 

Training

  • What biosafety trainings do I need to take & how frequently?
    • The trainings required vary based on what materials you’re working with.  Every course requires a re-take eventually to ensure that you’re recently refreshed and your knowledge is up to date on the subject, although the requirements on how often vary per course.  You can review this information on the Biosafety Trainings page.
  • The training course I need on a specific date is already at full attendance, what should I do?
    • Contact the instructor to see if they can make space for you in the session.
  • How do I check the last time I took training?
    • Login to trains.gatech.edu and view your own personal transcript.  It should have all previously attended courses listed and the dates that they were completed.
  • How do I get a copy of a course certificate?
    • Send an email to biosafety@gatech.edu listing your full name, which course you need a certificate for, and what date the course was taken.  Biosafety will email you a copy of your certificate.  We can only provide records for biosafety related trainings, other trainings certificates have to be pursued by their respective departments.
  • I’m a non-GT-affiliated student/employee/researcher/visitor and am required to take biological trainings.  How do I sign-up for these trainings?
    • You are still required to take training but you will not be able to log-in to the Trains site to register.  Email biosafety@gatech.edu to register for an upcoming classroom session.
  • Is the Basic Lab Safety course the same as the General Biosafety course?
    • General Biosafety and Basic Lab Safety are two different courses offered by two different departments within EHS.  They are not the same thing!  If you’re required to take these courses, it’s imperative that you register and take both of these courses.  Basic Lab Safety is offered by the Chemical & Laboratory Safety Office and covers basic lab safety.  General Biosafety is offered by the Biosafety Office and covers the principles and practices of biosafety and how those are applied at Georgia Tech.

 

 

Personal Protective Equipment

  • I need to have my lab coat laundered.  How do I do this and who can I call?
    • G&K Services currently provides this service for campus. You can reach them by 404-349-2863 for more information or explore their website: www.gkservices.com 

 

 

Bio Protocols

  • How do I know whether I need to submit an IBC application or a BMSC application?
    • Visit our webpage on biosafety protocol submission to learn more about each of these approval processes.
  • How can I get access to OnSite?
    • Email biosafety@ehs.gatech.edu with your full name, your GT ID number, your GT login ID, the PI / professor you’re working under, and your position title within the laboratory.  In the email, you must cc your professor on this email to confirm their consent.
  • I’m having problems with OnSite, what should I do?
    • Email biosafety@ehs.gatech.edu stating the issue you are having, providing full details on what’s happening or not happening, with screenshots.  This information will be forwarded on to the OnSite programmers. Therefore, it’s imperative that you be as descriptive as possible to ensure that issues are resolved.
  • While filling out an IBC application, how do I classify my IBC protocol?
    • You should go to Section III of the NIH Guidelines to determine what category your work falls under. If you need assistance, contact the Biosafety Officer.

 

 

Biosafety Occupational Health Program

  • Who needs to enroll?
    • Anyone working with animals or biological materials.  More information can be found on the BOHP page. 
  • How/where should I turn in my BOHP Confidential Exposure Questionnaire?
    • You can complete the form electronically and send it to EHS via email at biosafety@ehs.gatech.edu or you drop the form off in person to either the receptionist on the 1st floor of the IBB Building or to the EHS Office located at 490 10th Street, NW, 3rd Floor.  More information may be found on the BOHP page.
  • How do I know if I’m enrolled in the BOHP?
    • Biosafety will contact you with required trainings and recommended medical monitoring.  If it’s been an extended period of time since you initially registered, you can email biosafety@ehs.gatech.edu providing your full name and the PI / professor you registered under and we will let you know if you are indeed enrolled in the program.
  • How do I get a vaccine / titer check / medical test that has been recommended?
    • Visit Concentra with the medical recommendations provided to you by the Biosafety Office.  There, you can receive all recommended tests that you consent to.
  • Where is Concentra?
    • Concentra is located at 688 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30308.  Physically, it’s located across the highway, just south of Tech Square and directly north of the Varsity.  If you take the underground tunnel to cross the highway, Concentra will be on your immediate right upon exiting the tunnel and on Spring Street. Their phone number is 404-881-1155.

 

 

Shipments

  • How do I know if I need a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?
    • This determination will be made by the Office of Technology Licensing after you they review your submitted  paperwork for MTA initiation (i.e., Incoming Material Transfer Initiation Form, Outgoing Material Transfer Initiation Form)They will let you and Biosafety know whether your sample needs an MTA and when an MTA is approved.
  • What office does the Export Review?
    • The Export Control Office within the Office of Research Integrity Assurance conducts export reviews.  
  • Do I really need to schedule an appointment?
    • Yes, you really do need to schedule an appointment.  Showing up unexpected or trying to coordinate a shipment drop-off the day-of your desired shipment will likely result in disappointment.  All members of the Biosafety Office may be busy or out of the office when you show up to ship without an appointment.  To ensure that someone is available to receive your samples and has reserved time to ship your package, please be sure to schedule an appointment using the Biological Shipping Appointment webform.
  • What do I need to bring with me?
    • This information can be found in detail on the Biological Shipments page.  To summarize, on the day of shipment, bring the following to EHS:
      • Material in a secure and sealed inner container, which should be secured in secondary containment (a ziplock bag is sufficient for small quantities)
      • Dry Ice, if applicable
      • Safety information, such as an MSDS, if applicable
      • All completed paperwork

 

 

Equipment – Autoclave / BSC / Eyewash / Shower

  • How do I get a biosafety cabinet decontaminated?
    • Contact biosafety@ehs.gatech.edu to schedule a time for the technician to come to campus and service your unit.  The email should include the unit’s manufacturer, model number,  serial number, building, room number, and for what purpose the unit is to be decontaminated.  Note that the unit will likely require re-certification depending on what is done to the unit in the interim after decontamination, something that also needs to be coordinated through the Biosafety Office.
  • How often do biosafety cabinets, laminar flow hoods and clean benches need to be re-certified?
    • All biosafety cabinets must be re-certified on an annual basis, after they are repaired and after they are moved to a new location.  This service is offered through a Biosafety Office managed vendor and can be coordinated through Biosafety.
  • My biosafety cabinet / autoclave unit is not working, what should I do?
    • Contact biosafety@ehs.gatech.edu as soon as possible stating specifically which unit is down, where the unit is located, what issues the unit is reportedly having, and how long the unit has been malfunctioning.  Place a sign on the equipment that the unit is out of service. Please cc your building manager in this email.  Biosafety will get a technician on campus as soon as possible.
  • Why can’t I use an open flame in a BSC?
    • There are several reasons why this practice is prohibited:
      • The flame itself creates turbulence within the BSC which will disrupt the airflow inside the unit causing convection rather than intended laminar air flow patterns.  Laminar air patterns maintain both a sterilized work environment and protect your health from what you’re working with.
      • Additionally, cabinets are not designed for high heat; heat that can disrupt electrical equipment within the unit itself and grossly damage the HEPA filter leading to a loss of containment.
      • Lastly, most BSCs recirculate a percentage of air, so were the flame to go out, flammable gas would collect within the cabinet and reach explosive concentrations.
    • This policy is in accordance with recommendations from numerous agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and major biosafety cabinet manufacturers themselves.

 

 

Biohazard Waste Disposal

  • Who do I call to pick-up solid biohazard waste?
    • The Biosafety Office does not pick-up biohazardous waste.  Pick-ups are to be coordinated through the Hazardous Waste Office within EHS.  Please visit the Hazardous Waste webpage and contact the appropriate persons.
  • Does Biosafety provide sharps bins?
    • The Biosafety Office does not provide sharps bins. Labs may purchase these from any lab supply company.
  • I need more biohazard waste boxes, who should I call?
    • The Hazardous Waste Office provides biohazard waste boxes and the red plastic liners for these boxes.  Please visit the Hazardous Waste webpage and contact the appropriate persons.
  • Do I need to autoclave my biological waste first before having it picked up?
    • Solid, non-sharp biohazard waste from BSL-1 labs and BSL-2 labs may be disposed of directly into EHS supplied biohazard waste boxes lined with red biohazard bags.  These boxes are decontaminated offsite via incineration.