Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Training - Biosafety-Related

New Lab Personnel Biosafety Training Needs: GENERAL and SPECIFIC

GENERAL Training
  • Initial training is required for performing work in a laboratory using microbiological/ biomedical/ recombinant techniques and equipment. This training is available online, accessed through the EHS website. The following EHS training modules must be completed PRIOR to beginning work at the bench:
    • General Laboratory Safety (EHS online module)
    • Biosafety For Research Labs (EHS online module; can include Bloodborne Pathogens training—see below)
    • Introduction to Biological Safety Cabinets (EHS online module)
    • Safe Autoclave Use (EHS online module)
  • In addition, the following trainings are strongly recommended for more complete knowledge of lab safety practices:
    • Laboratory Hazardous Waste (EHS online module)
    • Personal Protective Equipment (EHS online module)
  • These trainings have a 3-year expiration, at which time they must be renewed. Certain other trainings, such as Bloodborne Pathogens and Respiratory Protection, have an OSHA-based annual renewal requirement.
  • Persons who work with rDNA molecules or synthetic nucleic acids must complete training on NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA molecules. This is accessed through the IBC website.
  • Additional training may be required or recommended, according to the person’s occupational tasks/risks in the lab, such as Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety and Portable Fire Extinguisher training. Further determinations may be made by EHS, the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), or Occupational Health in consultation with the PI.
  • Successfully completed EHS online training is recorded electronically. Trainees can access their online training profiles at any time through the EHS Safety Management System (SMS); it will display a list of completed trainings and their expiration dates, registrations for training not yet taken, and expired training. A record of completed EHS trainings can be printed from the SMS, if needed. The SMS also allows PIs/lab managers to view/monitor the training records of their lab groups for tracking completions, expired training, etc.
  • Initial orientation and training that is specific to the lab’s practices, equipment, procedures, and research --- this is what is meant by "lab-specific" training, and must be provided by the Principal Investigator or designee. Lab-specific training also can be tracked and managed in the SMS by PIs/lab managers.
  • The form provided by EHS, Biosafety Training for New Lab Personnel, outlines the required lab-specific training that should be provided to new lab workers. This form must be completed, with signatures of the trainee and PI (or designee) to document that lab-specific training has occurred; it also includes a statement that the PI (or designee) has found the trainee to be proficient in standard and special microbiological practices before being allowed to work with biohazardous agents. One of these forms must be completed and signed for every individual working in the lab, documenting that 1) lab-specific training has taken place and 2) the individual has demonstrated the needed proficiency. These forms should be kept in your Lab-Specific Biosafety Manual (or other file location in lab) for ready reference.

"Biosafety For Research Labs" (BSRL) Online Training Provides BBP Training If Needed

  • In 2017, BSRL (a single, comprehensive training module) replaced multiple CITI biosafety training modules previously required by the IBC. BSRL is now the biosafety training required by the IBC at Virginia Tech, and is customized to the needs and work situations of its research lab workers.
  • BSRL exists in two versions, one that includes BBP training components, and one that does not. Therefore it can accommodate lab workers who need biosafety training AND Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) training (due to use of human cell lines, specimen materials, etc., in their lab work), as well as those who need biosafety training only. NOTE: All lab personnel who work with human/NHP materials must receive BBP training through the online BSRL module.
  • To receive the BBP-inclusive version of this training, simply answer YES to the question that will be asked of you when you register for the training: "Do you work with human/NHP materials (including human cell lines." Those who answer NO will receive biosafety training without BBP required material, so take care to answer the question correctly for your situation.
  • Answering YES at registration for BSRL will launch the full biosafety + BBP version when you take the training initially, and every three years thereafter. When you successfully complete the BBP-inclusive version of BSRL initially, you will get credit for having taken both BBP training and BSRL in your EHS training profile, and they will both show a 1-year expiration.
  • To keep your training in compliance, you will need to register for BSRL annually; you DO NOT need to register for BBP training separately. In interim years when you register for BSRL, the system will launch a concise, BBP-only online refresher for you to take, NOT the full biosafety training module. The database will track your training profile, and will launch whichever module you need to keep both your biosafety training (3-year expiration) and your BBP training (1-year expiration) in compliance.

How do I register for EHS online trainings?

  • Go to www.ehss.vt.edu.
  • Click on ‘Training’ in the left gray bar.
  • Click on ‘Class Schedule and Registration.’
  • Click on the topic area you need. For example, clicking on ‘Biological Safety’ will open a list containing "Safe Autoclave Use," "Introduction to Biosafety Cabinets," etc. Click on the ‘Register’ button beside the training you want to take. The registration process will require your two-factor authentication.
  • At the bottom of the Training Class Registration Form, click on the SUBMIT button.
  • When you are ready, click on LAUNCH to begin the training.

NOTE: When trainings are viewed using older computers, older versions of software, or on older devices such as tablets, Ipads, etc., the likelihood of the training not loading or advancing properly is slightly increased. Before you click LAUNCH, refresh your browser. If you experience difficulty, try launching the training using a different browser, and/or a different computer, if possible.

Besides new personnel in the lab, who else needs biosafety training?

  • Existing Lab Personnel Could Need:
    • Training in new lab topics/ techniques, using new equipment, etc.
    • Refresher training to increase proficiency.
    • Remedial training following mistakes, exposures, accidents, etc.
    • Higher-level training if preparing to manage the lab.
  • Other Lab Personnel (with whom you share lab spaces or common-use equipment) Will Need:
    • Awareness training – to provide information about the hazardous biological materials manipulated in your research efforts using shared spaces or common equipment, such as disinfectants needed, etc.
  • Personnel Who Work In Or Around The Lab But Do NOT Work With Biohazards Will Need:
    • Awareness training on how to avoid exposure to biohazards in the lab.

Requirements for Documenting Biosafety-Related Training

  • Q: Why do we have to document this training, and how must we do it?
  • A: For liability and regulatory compliance purposes, all training (i.e., initial, refresher, lab topics, awareness, remedial) must be documented via a written record which includes, at a minimum, the trainee’s name, type of training received, and date of receipt.
  • Q: Under what circumstances are these training records examined?
  • A: Training records are subject to examination during inspections/ audits by oversight and regulatory agencies, and especially during investigations following an incident or exposure. Being able to prove that appropriate training took place can greatly impact the outcome of an investigation in the wake of a lab accident (the size of fines imposed, criminal prosecution, loss of funding, etc.).
  • Q: How must these training records be stored?
  • A: Training records can be stored as paper copies or scanned documents:
    • Printed copies of training records can be kept in the Lab-Specific Biosafety Manual; records for separated personnel can be filed elsewhere in an accessible location.
    • Electronic copies of training records can be stored in the lab’s SMS records, or another local electronic storage site that is easily accessible to PI, Lab Manager, and lab personnel.
  • Q: How long do these training records have to be kept?
  • A: Completed training records (electronic or printed) must be retained for the duration of each person’s employment or activity period in the lab, and for at least 3 years after a lab worker’s separation date.
  • Q: Who can view a person’s EHS electronic training record, and how is it viewed?
  • A: Any individual who is a Virginia Tech employee or student can view their "Training Profile" of successfully completed EHS online trainings, as follows:
    • Go to www.ehss.vt.edu.
    • Click on ‘Training’ in the left gray bar.
    • Click on "View Training Profile."

    You can also see expiration dates for each training, as well as those for which you have registered but not yet completed.

    PIs or other supervisory personnel in the lab who have been designated as administrators for the lab in the SMS can access and track EHS training records for all individuals in their lab group.

People To TrainType of Biosafety Training Needed Training Document To UseWhat the Document Certifies Who Provides Training
New lab personnel who will be working with biohazards EHS online training Training is documented electronically in EHS training database and can be accessed on an individual’s EHS Training Profile or through the Safety Management System.
  • Trainee is credited with successful completion of module.
  • Trainee name, date of completion of training, and when training expires
EHS -- online training modules
New lab personnel who will be working with biohazards
  • Biosafety training specific to your lab’s procedures, equipment & agents.
  • Safety orientation (e.g., evacuation routes, safety equipment, reporting procedures, etc.)
Biosafety Training Record for New Lab Personnel

(Serves as lab-specific training template for topics to cover, as well as a record of training, and certification of proficiency by the trainer.)
  • Trainee understands topic areas covered.
  • Trainee is generally proficient in lab procedures covered.
  • Trainee/trainer names, signatures & date of training
Principal Investigator or designee
Existing lab personnel working with biohazards
  • Biosafety refresher or review
  • Specific training on new procedures, equipment, etc.
Lab Topics Training Record

(Trainer fills in the lab topic covered; trainees/ participants sign on a signature page.)
  • Topics covered
  • Trainee/trainer names & date of training
Principal Investigator or designee
Existing lab personnel working with biohazards
  • Higher-level, comprehensive lab training
  • Remedial training in one or more areas
Biosafety Proficiency Checklist

(Serves as template for topics to cover and proficiency evaluation; can be customized according to need.)
  • Trainee understands all topic areas covered.
  • Trainee has demonstrated proficiency in specific lab skills & methods covered.
  • Trainee/trainer names, signatures & date of training
Principal Investigator or designee
Lab personnel from other groups with whom you share lab space or equipment
Personnel working in/around lab but NOT with biohazards
Lab-specific training to provide awareness of biohazards present in lab, & appropriate response to exposures, signs of disease, lab incidents Bioawareness Training Record

(Serves as template for topics to cover and training record sheet; can be customized according to situation.)
  • Trainee understands topic areas covered.
  • Trainee/trainer names, signatures & date of training
Principal Investigator or designee

Further Information and Guidance:

University Biosafety Manual, Sections 5.1 - 5.6