Updated:Wed, 22 Mar 2017

Laboratory Biosafety Manual Review

Laboratory Biosafety Manual

lab biosafety_manual World Health Organization, 2004
ISBN 92 4 154650 6 178 pages
CHF 50. US$ 45.00
In developing countries CHF 35.

This is the third edition of this manual, first published by WHO in 1983. Since its first publication the Laboratory Biosafety Manual has provided practical guidance on Biosafety techniques for use in laboratories at all levels. In the third edition there is increased stress on the importance of personal responsibility as a factor in safe working. There are new chapters on risk assessment, safe use of recombinant DNA technology and transport of infectious materials. The concept of biosecurity is also dealt with.

The manual is divided into nine parts and is laid out in clear and easy to read language. Part I covers Biosafety guidelines, dealing with issues such as risk assessment, Biosafety levels 1 – 4, laboratory animal facilities and guidelines for laboratory commissioning and certification. There is an excellent laboratory safety survey checklist at the end of this section.

Part II is a new section, in which biosecurity concepts are examined, describing the institutional and personal security measures designed to prevent the loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release of pathogens and toxins.

Laboratory Equipment is the subject of Part III and deals in detail with biological safety cabinets and safety equipment, such as pipetting aids, disposable transfer loops and personal protective equipment and clothing.

In Part IV good microbiological techniques are explained. Some of these range from safe handling of specimens in the laboratory to the use of centrifuges to the precautions to be taken with materials that may contain prions. There are sections on contingency planning and emergency procedures, a detailed section on disinfection and sterilization and an introduction to the transport of infectious substances.

There is a whole new section on recombinant DNA technology and Biosafety and this is covered in Part V.

Chemical, fire and electrical safety are covered in Part VI. Compressed and liquefied gases and ionising radiation are also discussed. There is a short paragraph on the effect on workers of noise exposure, a topic that can easily be overlooked when preparing safety documents.

Part VII is headed Safety organization and training and deals with the roles of the Biosafety officer and Biosafety Committee. Safety for support staff and training programmes are also covered.

The penultimate section, Part VIII, is a safety checklist of all aspects of the laboratory, e.g., premises, storage facilities, lighting and flammable liquid storage, to name but a few.

References, annexes and the index are included in Part IX. The annexes include first aid, immunization of staff, WHO Biosafety Collaborating Centres, equipment safety and a very comprehensive list of chemicals, detailing their hazards and precautions to be used.

I found the manual very easy to read. It is attractively laid out and is an excellent introduction to the concepts of Biosafety in the laboratory. It achieves its objectives admirably, in that it presents the information in a very accessible format, giving very sensible and practical advice on wide range of Biosafety topics. This manual should appeal to anyone who has an interest in safe work practices in a modern laboratory. It is very reasonably priced and should be found on the bookshelves of all laboratories.

N. White