Lab Etiquette and Best Practices

Knowledge and awareness of rules for personal and biological safety are highly important to creating a safe, organized, collaborative and productive lab environment.

Working in the laboratory requires constant surveillance for hazardous materials and practices. It also requires that we be able to identify potential hazards and prevent or manage them properly without compromising our safety and the safety of others. Lab etiquette informs us on how to behave properly in the lab by developing safe practices and habits, as well as effective responses to potentially hazardous activities and outcomes.

Disposal and Spills

  1. Place used or contaminated lab supplies in proper waste containers. Locate the regular trash, biological waste containers, sharps and broken-glass containers. Any lab supplies that come into contact with cultures, media, reagents or any potentially hazardous material should not be left on the benchtop.
  2. Place used reusable equipment in proper receptacles for autoclaving; this includes metal loops, hockey sticks, glass beads, forceps, and glassware.
  3. Dispose of samples, cultures, and media in designated biological waste receptacle.
  4. Dispose of used toothpicks, wooden sticks, plastic tips, weigh boats, Petri dishes, and other disposables in designated biological waste receptacles.
  5. Dispose of used sharps (slides, coverslips, Pasteur pipettes, broken glass, etc.) in designated sharps and broken glass container.
  6. Ask your instructor about glass (e.g., microscope slide) and/or broken glass disposal.
  7. Properly dispose of contaminated media and plates.
    • Do not remove the lid off plates with fungal growth. Plates with yeasts or molds disseminate spores, which rapidly spread and contaminate the lab. Consult your instructor for inspection and proper disposal.
    • Do not use agar plates (solid media) or liquid media that appear to have bacterial growth / contamination. Consult your instructor for inspection and proper disposal.
  8. Immediately clean spills by flooding with disinfectant for a few minutes and wiping with appropriate absorbent material. For large spills, immediate inform your instructor.