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Biological Safety Levels

9/30/2019 (Permalink)

Biohazard levels, more commonly known as “biological safety levels” or “biosafety levels” are classifications of safety precautions necessary to be applied in the clinical microbiology laboratory depending on specific pathogens handled when performing laboratory procedures. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this principle provides a way for medical laboratory scientists and other lab personnel to identify and limit any biological hazards and further reducing the risk in the laboratory. Biohazard levels, on the other hand, also support the principle of biosecurity, which is aimed at preventing the use of microorganisms as harmful biological agents.

Four classifications of biosafety levels (BSLs) exist. Each level contains specific recommendations for a clinical microbiology laboratory with a focus on laboratory practices, safety equipment, and facility construction. As each level progresses, additional biosafety considerations are included in the previous level. For example, BSL-2 has kept the components of BSL-1 with further requirements, and the same applies to BSL-3 (BSL-2 with additional requirements) and BSL-4 (BSL-3 with additional requirements). The complexity of each level is aligned with infectivity, disease severity, the microorganisms’ ability for transmission (including exposure routes), and the nature of the laboratory work to be performed.

Implementation of biosafety and biosecurity in the laboratory can initially present as an additional burden to laboratory staff and managers. However, the relevance of applying biosafety principles at the workplace should not be ignored.


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