SFU has a comprehensive biosafety program to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements and is governed by the Institutional Biosafety Committee under the Vice President, Research.

SFU faculty and staff members intending to conduct research, teaching and testing involving biohazardous material, under the auspices of SFU and/or using SFU resources, are required to submit a biosafety permit application through the biosafety permit database. An approved biosafety permit must be in place in advance of such work.


Specialized equipment such as Biosafety Cabinets (BSCs), autoclaves and centrifuges, are needed in order to carry out research with biohazardous materials.

Biological Safety Cabinets

Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs) provide effective primary containment for work with biohazardous materials by containing bioaerosols. BSCs must be used in all work with RG2 or RG3 agents that has the potential to create aerosols (e.g., opening and closing tubes, pipetting, vortexing, etc.). BSCs must be certified when first installed and then on an annual basis. If the cabinet is repaired or relocated, it must be re-certified prior to use. A copy of the certification report must be kept on file and a copy sent to the EHS office.

*Important: A laminar flow hood is not a BSC. Although it provides a sterile work area, it does not protect the operator.

Review the list of approved BSC certifiers.

Review instructions for safe operating instructions for biological safety cabinets.


Autoclaves use steam under high pressure to destroy microorganisms by denaturing proteins and nucleic acids as one of the fastest and one of the most effective means of sterilization. Organisms are killed in an exponential fashion and therefore the exposure time required depends on the rapidity with which the steam is able to penetrate and heat the materials, as well as the overall microbial load.

The following general rules must be followed by all autoclave users:

  • Use autoclave tape with every load to ensure that the autoclave was turned on (note: this tape is not an indicator of sterility).
  • Maintain records of each autoclave run, including the time, temperature and pressure.
  • A log book is provided in each autoclave room for this purpose.
  • Use biological indicators (e.g., Bacillus stearothermophilus spores) at least weekly for autoclaves that are used for decontamination. Record all results on the Bio-Indicator Test Results form and report any unusual results must be reported immediately to the department.
  • Administrative Officer and to EHS.
  • Before using this equipment, all autoclave users must be adequately trained in the safe use and operation of the autoclave including the quality control program. Training records of autoclave users must be maintained by each department.
Please refer to Autoclaves: Safe Operating Instructions for more information.

Biological indicators (BI) are used for microbiological monitoring of sterilization processes. Microbiological monitoring is necessary to prove that potentially harmful microorganisms are eliminated by a sterilization process such as autoclaving. The Use of Biological Indicators SOP (PDF document needs to be uploaded to DAM) defines the procedures for the use of BIs during decontaminations and the documentation to validate that the zone, material or equipment is free of infectious agents.


The main hazards to consider when utilizing a centrifuge are:

  • aerosol production and;
  • mechanical failure.

To ensure the safe operation of the centrifuge please consider these recommendations for centrifuge use:

  • outside surface of cups and rotors should be decontaminated, as required;
  • equipment should be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, which includes the balancing of rotors to prevent rotor damage or explosion;
  • plastic tubes that are suitable for centrifugation should be used (e.g., thick wall external thread plastic tubes with screw caps);
  • sealed centrifuge cups or rotors are to be used to prevent the release of aerosols during centrifugation, and the integrity of the cup or rotor seal regularly inspected;
  • cups and rotors with samples of infectious material are to be unloaded inside a BSC to protect against the release of infectious aerosols;
  • sufficient time for aerosols to settle should be allowed prior to opening cups and rotors.
  • the use of centrifuges inside a BSC will disrupt the airflows and compromise the protection provided by the BSC, and should be avoided.

Please refer to Centrifuge: Safe Operating Instruction for more information