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Oklahoma State University
University Research Compliance

A unit in the Division of the Vice President for Research

Biosafety - Biosafety Stewardship Initiative

Biosafety Stewardship Initiative

Background

In the wake of widely publicized lapses in safety practices at federal laboratories, the U.S. Government has mandated a “Safety Stand-Down” to allow federal departments and agencies to devote considerable attention to safe research practices. As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared September as National Biosafety Stewardship Month and has encouraged grantee institutions like OSU to take part in this initiative.

To fulfill the NIH request in such a way as to impose on OSU researchers as little as possible while being thorough in our efforts, the IBC is asking all OSU faculty and staff who utilize biohazardous materials to take part in its new Biosafety Stewardship Initiative. Investigator participation in this program will aid the university in meeting federal expectations to ensure that research is being carried out in the safest manner possible by reexamining current biosafety policies and practices, conducting inventories of infectious agents and biologically-derived toxins in each laboratory, and reinforcing biosafety training.

Initiative Activities

Each principal investigator (PI) who utilizes biohazardous materials (i.e., all viable infectious, pathogenic, or toxin-producing agents, prions, biologically-derived toxins, or nucleic acid constructs that have the potential to affect the health of humans, animals, plants, or the environment) is required to:

  • review laboratory-specific biosafety policies and procedures and, if necessary, modify them to optimize effectiveness;
  • review training records and ensure that all laboratory members are current (within the last year) for laboratory-specific training, hazard communications training, and laboratory safety training; and
  • conduct an inventory of all infectious agents (i.e., human, animal, and plant pathogens) and biologically-derived toxins (i.e., naturally occurring molecules produced by animals, plants, microorganisms, or other biological agents that have a medial lethal dose value of less than 50 mg/kg) in his or her laboratory to ensure proper handling/storage and documentation of these materials (please see below for details).

Infectious Agent and Toxin Inventory Guidelines

To ensure that all agents are properly stored and accounted for, each PI must maintain an accurate inventory of all infectious materials and biologically-derived toxins under his or her control. This inventory should include not only agents regularly in use, but agents in long term storage as well. Please check all freezers, refrigerators, and cold rooms to ensure that all infectious agents and biologically-derived toxins are inventoried. A list of information that must be included for each agent/toxin can be found below. Please note that a tube-by-tube count of the agents is not necessary.

  • Agent name and strain designation, if applicable
  • Storage method (e.g., -80°C freezer, refrigerator, liquid nitrogen, etc.)
  • Storage location (i.e., building and room)

Materials that are no longer needed and those that cannot be documented (i.e., unlabeled materials) should be decontaminated by autoclaving and disposed of. The Biosafety Officer must be contacted immediately if an unregistered select agent or toxin is discovered. There will be no penalty for reporting the discovery of these items.

Once the initial inventories are received and reviewed, the IBC will determine how often researchers will be expected to update their inventory documents with the Biosafety Office.

Documentation of Activities

Each OSU investigator who utilizes biohazardous materials in research and/or teaching activities must submit a completed Biosafety Stewardship Initiative Form and a current inventory of the infectious agents and biologically-derived toxins under his or her control to the Biosafety Office. We will accept inventory documents in any form provided that the above information is included. However, an inventory template is available should you wish to use it.

Compliance

Participation in this initiative is mandatory. Failure to submit the required documents could result in suspension or termination of research and/or teaching activities. For questions or assistance, please contact the Biosafety Office.

Mindy James, Ph.D.
Biological Safety Officer
mindymc@okstate.edu
Office: 405.744.3203
Jennifer Nangle, RBP
Assistant Biological Safety Officer
jennifer.nangle@okstate.edu
Office: 405.744.3376