As I am sure you are aware by now, September has been designated as National Biosafety Stewardship Month by the NIH, and The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo requesting a “a government-wide ‘safety stand-down’”. These requests encourage all biological labs to improve inventories of infectious agents and toxins, and the practices implemented to track these materials.
Three recent incidents at the CDC and NIH have prompted the issuance of these requests. While they are not being enforced, participation is being strongly encouraged, particularly at facilities receiving federal funding. Researchers are encouraged to inventory their labs for infectious agents and toxins, as well as venoms, poisons, and explosive materials. All facilities are encouraged to seize the opportunity to implement improved biosafety practices.
If you have been considering starting a biological material inventory program, now is the perfect time to inventory what is in-house and develop a gatekeeping system for all new material. Biosafety policies, procedures, and training should be reviewed and updated as needed. Implementing a policy that requires all departing researchers to clean out their work space and provide an inventory of remaining materials could be discussed at your next safety committee meeting. September or October would be a great time to conduct that lab clean-out that has been discussed for some time now, but not moved forward.
Join in National Biosafety Stewardship Month and get your biosafety program in top shape!