BSCs: Safe and Effective Work Practices

Before Work Is Started

  • Remove all unnecessary equipment and supplies from the cabinet, as clutter alters air flow. Check that air grilles are clear.
  • Turn on blower before using the BSC to remove particulates in the cabinet. Wait at least five minutes.
  • Wipe down surface of cabinet interior with disinfectant.
  • Prepare a checklist of materials necessary for the activity. Place supplies and needed equipment in the BSC before beginning work to minimize the number of arm-movement disruptions across the air barrier of the cabinet. Only items required for the immediate work should be placed in the BSC.
  • Place decontaminating solution inside the cabinet to facilitate quick clean-up of spills. Do not hang disinfectant bottle on outside grille of the BSC.
  • Wipe the exterior of supplies with a disinfectant, particularly containers removed from a water bath. Segregate items that will remain clean from the ones that may become contaminated.
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment for the work being done.
  • Adjust stool height so that your neck and face are above the sash opening.

While Working in the Cabinet

  • In order to prevent air disturbances that can breach the air barrier, never have more than one person at a time use a cabinet.
  • Delay manipulation of materials for approximately one minute after placing the hands/arms inside the cabinet. Do not rest arms on the front grille. Raising arms slightly will lessen disruption of air flow.
  • Work as far back in the cabinet as practical — at least four inches inside the front grille edge.
  • Move arms slowly and limit arm movement in and out of cabinet.
  • As a general rule of thumb, the work flow should be from "clean to contaminated or dirty (e.g., from left to right) ". Working in the BSC eliminates the need to flame bottlenecks when pouring liquid. Remove media with vacuum and replace with serological pipettes.
  • Do not hang bottles of disinfectant from the front grille. The disinfectant bottle should be kept inside the BSC until all items have been disinfected and removed.

After Work Is Complete

  • Wipe down the surfaces of all containers and equipment with an appropriate disinfectant and remove from the cabinet.
  • Leave blower on for several minutes with no activity so that any airborne contaminants will be purged from the work area.
  • Wipe down the cabinet interior with disinfectant.
  • Remove gloves and wash hands.

Tips to Prevent Contamination

  • Lab coat and sleeves can introduce contaminants to biological safety cabinets and incubators. Use coats designated for working in the biological safety cabinet or tissue culture area and launder frequently. Use disposable sleeve guards if contamination has been a problem.
  • Do not leave flasks of waste media in cabinet. Clean after every use.
  • On a regular basis, decontaminate under the air grilles and wherever parts are removable. Media is commonly splattered on the front grille, allowing fungus to grow undetected on the under surface of the grille. 
  • Decontaminate the surface of carts or trays used to transfer culture flasks between the incubator and the biological safety cabinet or microscope.
  • Keep pipette aids cleaned, especially the nosepiece, and replace filters regularly. Do not store pipette aids or carousel in the BSC.
  • Clean and disinfect vacuum tubing. 
  • Place only the items necessary to carry out the work inside of the cabinet. The fewer items, the better the air flow, decreasing the likelihood of contamination.
  • Do not alter a BSC in anyway such as taping items to the inside of the cabinet walls.
  • Do not store any items in the BSC. Disinfect and remove all items once the work is complete.