The purpose of UTD’s Biosafety program is to promote the safe use of biological agents in the university’s research laboratories. UTD has established an Institutional Biosafety and Chemical Safety Committee (IBCC) to assist in providing guidelines and polices for biological safety to ensure that laboratory personnel are trained in the hazards and safe handling procedures of biological agents.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines biohazards (biological hazards) as “infectious agents presenting a risk or potential risk to the well-being of an, or other animals, either directly through infection or indirectly through disruption of the environment.” Proper handling and disposal of biohazardous materials greatly reduces the potential for exposure to infectious or harmful agents. Students and Faculty at UTD who engage in laboratory work involving potentially hazardous biological materials should be aware of BioSafety precautions and occupational procedures.

Definition of Biohazardous Materials

Biohazards are infectious agents or hazardous biological materials that present a risk or potential risk to the health of humans, animals, or the environment. The risk can be direct through infection or indirect through damage to the environment.

Biohazardous materials and organisms covered in UT Dallas’ Biosafety Program include:

  • Infectious organisms and agents that can cause disease in humans, animals, plants, or cause significant environmental or agricultural impact
  • Infectious Prions
  • Viral Vectors
  • Engineered cell-entry domains
  • Nanomaterials used with biological systems, agents or materials
  • Nanomaterials used with biological systems or agents
  • Human and non-human primate tissues, fluids, cells or cell cultures
  • Animals, tissues, fluids, cells or cell cultures of animals that have been exposed to infectious organisms or are known to be reservoirs of zoonotic diseases
  • Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acids in vitro and in vivo
  • Transgenic plants or animals
  • Biological toxins
  • Select Agents

Requirement for researchers

Principal investigators must obtain an approved research protocol from the Institutional Biosafety and Chemical Safety Committee before beginning research activities with biohazardous materials.

An approved protocol will:

  • Describe the work to be conducted with biohazardous materials
  • Establish the biosafety level of containment
  • Identify the researchers, lab workers, and collaborators
  • Authorize the PI to conduct the work
  • Identify the approved work locations

PIs are responsible for keeping their protocol current at all times.

Bloodborne Pathogens

Recognizing Tasks and Activities Involving Exposure to Blood

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard 29 CFR 1910.1030 defines an occupational exposure as “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee’s duties.” OSHA’s definition of occupational exposure excludes exposures that are not reasonably expected. It also excludes exposures that are not a required part of your normal job.

If you are unsure about whether an activity may involve exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials, ask your supervisor or contact the Safety team at 972-883-7200.

Potentially Infectious Materials

The following list represents the potentially infectious materials that are regulated by OSHA and which require careful management and control:

  • Human blood, blood components, and blood products
  • Semen or vaginal secretions
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Synovial, pleural, peritoneal, or amniotic fluids
  • Saliva in dental procedures (frequently contains blood)
  • Any body fluid visibly contaminated with blood
  • All body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids
  • Any unfixed tissue or organs (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead)
  • HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions
  • Blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B vaccination is strongly recommended for personnel who have occupational exposure to BBP. The vaccination is provided at no cost to the individual through the UT Dallas Occupational Health Program.
  • UT Dallas collaborates with UT Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) as our Occupational Health provider.  Personnel who have occupational exposure to BBP are offered access to the UT Dallas-UTSW Occupational Health Program to promote workers’ health and support employees’ working ability. After consulting with their Supervisor and the Safety team, an individual completes the online Occupational Health Program Enrollment – Intake Form to begin the enrollment process. Once enrolled in the program, individuals will establish a secure and private “My Health” account through the ReadySet® occupational health management system, and complete a Health History Questionnaire (HHQ) for review by the UTSW Occupational Health Nurse.  UTSW will assess the working conditions that personnel will be exposed to, and determine if any additional procedures or practices are recommended to protect the health and safety of the individual.  Additional procedures or practices may include:  Titer and/or administration of immunizations, Tuberculosis (TB) screening, spirometry testing and/or respirator fit testing, vision screening, latex allergy screening, or recommendations for consultation with other supporting medical providers.  All services are provided at the UTSW Occupational Health clinic.
  • Employees and students receive information about the vaccine and are provided with an Acceptance/Declination form. Employees and students working with BBPs must complete, sign and return the form and follow guidelines developed under the UT Dallas Occupational Health Program.
  • If an employee initially declines vaccination, the vaccination remains available if at a later date the employee decides to accept the vaccination while still having occupational exposure to BBP.

Use of Sharps

Sharps are devices or objects with corners, edges, or projections capable of cutting or piercing skin or regular waste bags. State and local laws regulate disposal of sharps to protect waste handlers from both physical and contamination hazards.

Examples of sharps include:

  • Hypodermic needles, syringes, tubing
  • Blades (scalpels, razors)
  • Broken lab glassware
  • Microscope slides
  • Glass capillary tubes

Storage and Use

When applicable:

  • Secure sharps with a magnet
  • Store razor blades in a petri dish
  • Put needles into cork and do not recap needles
  • Avoid placing sharps on the bench
  • Store a sharps waste container near where the sharps are generated.


How these objects should be disposed of — whether by the Hazardous Materials team, by the biohazardous waste disposal firm UT Dallas contracts with, or in the regular trash — depends on whether they are contaminated with a hazardous material and the type of contamination. Separating sharps by type of contamination is required by law.

For disposal purposes, there are 4 kinds of sharps:

  • Non-contaminated (except needles, syringes and lancets)
  • Biohazardous (includes non-contaminated needles, syringes, and lancets)
  • Chemically contaminated
  • Radioactive

Whether contaminated or not, specific packaging and container restrictions apply. Visit our Hazardous Waste page for more information.


Available Courses

All training courses are accessible through the online BioRAFT Laboratory Management System. A NetID and registration with a UTD research laboratory is required for access. If you are visiting a campus lab or do not have a NetID, please contact us at

BiosafetyRequired for individuals working with biohazardous materials or rDNAOnline
Bloodborne PathogensRequired for individuals working with blood or any other infectious agentsOnline
Autoclave SterilizationRequired for laboratory personnel operating an autoclave as part of their research activities Classroom



For general questions, please contact the Safety team at (972) 883-7200. Please contact us with questions regarding safety training requirements or offerings at


  • Stacey Gregersen,
    Senior Safety Specialist, 972-883-3554, BSB 12.633,, biological safety;biosafety and chemical safety committee;research and academic safety;research integrity and outreach;safety