Principles of Biosafety

The term containment describes safe methods, or properly managing infectious agents in the laboratory environment where they are being handled or maintained. The purpose of containment is to reduce or eliminate the exposure to potentially hazardous agents of laboratory workers, other persons, and the outside environment.

Primary containment, which is the protection of personnel and the immediate laboratory environment from exposure to infectious agents, is provided by both good microbiological technique and the use of appropriate safety equipment. The use of vaccines may provide an increased level of personal protection.

Secondary containment, which is the protection of the environment external to the laboratory from exposure to infectious materials, is provided by a combination of facility design and operational practices.

To review, the three elements of containment include:

  • Laboratory practice and technique
  • Safety equipment
  • Facility design

The risk assessment of the work to be done with a specific agent will determine the appropriate combination of these elements.