The oversight of Biological Safety Level 2 (BSL2) presents a number of challenges in research safety management in many large research institutions. The reasons for this may vary but are often some combination of lax oversight by the Principal Investigator, disorganization, poor housekeeping and the haphazard use of Personal Protective Equipment. On the other hand, there are some extraordinarily well managed BSL2 labs that deserve special recognition and dispensation for their efforts.
At Northwestern University, our BSL2 Recognition Program both encourages and recognizes those labs that demonstrate and maintenance of a culture of safety and responsibility.
Specifically, the Recognition Program:
- Ensures the safety of laboratory workers, support staff and the community.
- Assists laboratories in maintaining compliance with applicable NIH, OSHA, CDC, and EPA regulations as well as other relevant State and Local agencies (as applicable).
- Reinforces and rewards a positive working relationship between the Office for Research Safety (ORS) and individual laboratories.
- Grants special dispensation to accredited laboratories in the form of rewards and incentives including recognition, rewards and less frequent inspections.
The primary structure of the Northwestern University BSL2 Recognition Program has been developed in a form of a rubric by which laboratories could be accredited in a standardized fashion. The rubric uses elements that had already existed as a part of the Office for Research Safety (ORS) Laboratory Safety Review (LSR), a safety checklist that Laboratory Safety Specialists (LSS) use to evaluate a laboratory. The rubric identifies several key safety elements in which laboratories must not be deficient in order to achieve accreditation. Additionally, two unannounced laboratory inspections will be conducted within a three month period prior to being considered for accreditation. Upon achieving accreditation, a laboratory maintains that status for two years during which time laboratory inspections will be waived. Our goal is to recognize and award 10% of the BSL-2 laboratories. We have 230 BSL-2 labs in Chicago and 55 in Evanston. In 2017, we have awarded 7 laboratories on each campus. For 2018, we have recognized 12 laboratories in Chicago and 1 in Evanston. Our goal for Evanston has been reached, but we are still working on getting few more labs from Chicago.