Environmental Health & Safety

University of Colorado Boulder

Lab Support


Biosafety02The Biosafety Unit oversees safety and compliance for all research involving biological materials on the CU Boulder campus. In collaboration with the Institutional Biosafety Committee, the Biosafety unit provides knowledge, support, and audits. Regulated biological materials in research include biological agents, infected animals or tissues, recombinant DNA, select agents and toxins, and work with human blood, bodily fluids, and tissues, or cells in culture.

Resources on this site are amassed to assist you in executing research involving biological material while staying safe and compliant.

The first step for all Principal Investigators using biological materials is to secure IBC authorization.

Get IBC Information



Biological Sample Inventories

In light of the recent lapses in biosafety practices involving federal laboratories, the National Security Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy sent a joint memo to all federal departments and agencies involved in life-sciences research urging them to take immediate and longer-term steps to address the underlying causes of the incidents and strengthening overall biosafety and biosecurity at federal facilities. Click here for the NSC/OSTP memo.

In response, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, released a statement on August 27, 2014 designating September as National Biosafety Stewardship Month.

In the month of September, NIH laboratories did, and grantee institutions and/or contractors were encouraged to, do the following:

  • Reexamine current policies and procedures for biosafety practices and oversight to ascertain whether they require modification to optimize their effectiveness;
  • Conduct inventories of infectious agents and toxins in all laboratories to ensure that the institution has a record of which infectious agents and toxins are being utilized, has documentation that those materials are properly stored under the appropriate containment conditions, and has documentation that cites the party responsible for appropriate stewardship of the materials; and
  • Reinforce biosafety training of investigators, laboratory staff, and members of IBCs to include:
    • Reexamining training materials and practices being utilized by the institution;
    • Updating materials as appropriate; and
    • Ascertaining the appropriate frequency of training and conduct training when the interval between training or other considerations warrant it.

What do you need to do?

It’s time to clean shop and create/update an inventory – do you know what’s in your lab’s freezers?

UCB researchers are responsible for what is in their laboratories. Please discuss this topic with your lab members and update your lab’s inventories of biological materials. It not only keeps you aware of the agents for which you are ultimately responsible, but it will also help create space in your freezers by getting rid of those tubes that you no longer need. Freezer clean-outs are good laboratory practice, and they help keep your freezers running well and efficiently, thereby decreasing the risk of freezer malfunction and sample loss. A proper inventory should also greatly reduce the amount of time needed to find a sample from the freezer.

Below are a few examples of templates that can be used for your inventory:

9×9 freezer box template

10×10 freezer box template

Bacteria stock storage sheet


Safety Resources

In addition to training, you can use our library of resources to stay on top of safety and compliance. You’ll find helpful reference material including IBC documentation.

View Documentation

Biosafety Audits

We conduct Biosafety audits annually to support ongoing safety. You can ensure that your lab will pass by using the checklist provided below. This audit is part of the IBC post-approval monitoring.

Procedures for Biological Material Involved Work-Related Injuries or Illness

For work-related injuries or illnesses that include animal bites, severe allergic symptoms, sharps exposures, and any exposure—or potential exposure—to recombinant DNA or any other biological materials, it is critical that all safety procedures be followed. These events must be reported to the campus Biosafety unit. It is the policy of the University that all incidents that result in an injury (or severe illness) to faculty, staff, or students be appropriately documented and reported. Please reference the below document that provides information on medical treatment, reporting procedures, and worker’s compensation eligibility.

Pest Management

Maintaining pest control in biological laboratories is essential to overall campus safety. Facilities Management is charged with implementing and enforcing the campus-wide pest control use policy. Their staff is on hand to handle all pest control needs.

Select Agents

Infectious agents and toxins that are considered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as having the potential to pose substantial harm or a severe threat to human, animal, or plant health or plant products are regulated as “select agents”.

Select agents in any quantity are not permissible at CU Boulder. Toxins are permissible when in exempt quantities only. If you would like to work with toxins in exempt quantities, please contact the Biosafety unit.

Select Agent Resources

Guidance for Cleaning out Low Temp Freezers

This document describes procedures to help laboratories clean out and dispose of unused or unwanted items contained in ULT freezers and other freezers and refrigerators.  All items removed from any freezer or refrigerator must be carefully evaluated to ensure that they are disposed of properly. Please look at the document below for more information.