Biohazard Spills

Initial Response

  • If switches are accessible, shut off air conditioning units and ceiling fans.
  • Evacuate the lab if there is potential for aerosol generation from the spilled material. Spills in biosafety cabinets will likely be contained within the cabinet.
  • Post a "do not enter" sign on the door.
  • Secure corridor near lab entrance with "do not enter" tape.
  • Assess whether people or clothing require treatment for exposure to hazardous organisms.
  • Consult with supervisor.
  • Consult with lab coordinator.
  • Allow 60 minutes for aerosols to settle before initiating clean-up.

Clean Up

  • Wearing gloves, mark the spill perimeter with a grease pen or masking tape. Remember that some evaporation may have occurred on flat and vertical surfaces.
  • If spill is in a piece of equipment, unplug it, and post a notice.
  • Set up the disposal bucket with a plastic bag liner.
  • Do not recap or bend needles; using tongs, place them in a sharps container.
  • Remove broken glass with tongs into an autoclavable container for autoclaving.
  • If practicable, begin cleaning upper surfaces and vertical surfaces before floors.
  • Soak paper towel in decontaminant such as bleach and lay them over the perimeter of the spill. Progress by laying more toward centre.
  • Place dry paper towels on top to soak up remaining liquid and apply more disinfectant. Keep spill area covered with decontaminant for 30 minutes.
  • Remove paper towels to lined bucket and wipe up until all material is absorbed and the area is dry.
  • Add more bleach to the bucket to ensure organism kill.
  • Place bucket in a fume hood for venting for 24 hours and wash hands.
  • After 24 hours, lift out bag and while standing over a sink with running water, poke a hole in the bottom of the plastic bag to drain the bleach.
  • Place the drained plastic bag with solids into the waste basket.
  • Wash hands.


Complete an SFU incident report, see Incident Reporting. If an employee visited a physician, or was absent beyond the day of the incident (due to the incident), then the supervisor completes a WorksafeBC Form 7.