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Biological Safety

Biological organisms are used across Ryerson University for both research and teaching applications. This includes microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, funguses, cells, tissues, human or animal blood, or body fluids that have the potential to cause infection and contaminate the environment.

Ryerson’s Biological Safety Program, administered by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) biosafety officer, is designed to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors from potential exposure to infectious materials, and to prevent the release of these materials into the environment. The PDF fileBiosafety Program Manual outlines the requirements and procedures established by the university for working with potentially hazardous biological agents.

Getting started

Applying for a permit

All biohazardous work conducted by university members on university property or under the control of the university requires a biosafety permit. Federal research funding agencies require a biosafety permit to be issued by an institution prior to funds being released.

Researchers and lab managers requiring a new permit or renewal/amendment should complete a Biosafety Permit Application.

Setting up your lab

When setting up a new lab, the Public Health Agency of Canada, external link (PHAC)’s Canadian Biosafety Standards (CBS), Second Edition (2015), external link must be followed. PHAC also provides guidance through the Canadian Biosafety Handbook, Second Edition (2016), external link. Please contact the biosafety officer at ehs@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5000, ext. 554212 for support in setting up your lab.

Training

Users in biosafety labs handling pathogens and biohazards

Training is a key component of the Biological Safety Program and is mandatory for all users prior to accessing a biosafety lab and handling pathogens and/or biohazards. Users are expected to study the modules below and successfully pass the biosafety quiz, administered by EHS. A certificate is granted after the successful completion of the quiz.

Step 1: Download the slides and study the content

The goal of these slides is to walk the user through an understanding of university policy and safety procedures when working with biological hazards. The training covers basic health and safety principles to help the user minimize their exposure to the harmful effects of pathogens and biohazards in biosafety labs.

Step 2: Complete the quiz

Following the study of the above content, you will have to complete the biosafety quiz, administered by EHS. To arrange an appointment, contact EHS at ehs@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5000, ext. 553770.

Users entering biosafety labs not handling pathogens and biohazards

Training is available to individuals who will be working in biosafety laboratories but will not be handling any pathogens or biohazards. Permit holders are expected to ensure that these individuals complete the Biological Safety Awareness Training.

Step 1: Sign up for a Learner Profile

To sign up for this training, follow these enrollment instructions.

Step 2: Complete the training in D2L

Biological Safety Awareness Training is comprised of one module and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Caretaking staff

Staff who are responsible for waste collection or caretaking staff can review the PDF fileBiohazardous Waste Disposal Training for Caretaking Staff.

Disposing of biohazardous waste

Biohazardous waste collection should be managed in the following ways:

Biological waste

Biological waste is waste containing biological material that has not been in contact with a cytotoxic drug or other hazardous (chemicals or radioactive) materials.

Cytotoxic waste

Cytotoxic waste is defined as any material that may have come into contact with a cytotoxic drug. Cytotoxic waste cannot be treated by just autoclaving — this kind of waste must be segregated and sent offsite to be incinerated.  

When disposing of waste, please note that cytotoxic and regular waste should never be mixed together.

Step 1: Choose a container

Cardboard boxes with a plastic liner are best used for either biological or cytotoxic waste that is not sharp or will not cause punctures, while plastic pails with lids should be used for objects that can puncture a bag.

Step 2: Fill the container

Autoclave bags

If you currently have waste in autoclave bags, these must be placed inside a box with liner (yellow/red) before disposal. Please note that the color of the autoclave bag does not matter (only the colour of the box liner matters).

Sharps containers

If you currently have sharps waste in sharps containers, these can be placed inside a box with liner (yellow/red) before disposal. Please note that the color of the sharps container does not matter (only the colour of the box liner matters).

Cardboard boxes
  1. Before you begin, inspect the cardboard box to ensure there is no damage.
  2. Reinforce the bottom of the box with extra tape.
  3. Place a yellow liner inside the box. Pull the edges of the yellow liner over the box so that none of the waste misses it.
  4. Place the waste inside of the yellow liner.
  5. Once it is approximately 75% full, close the plastic liner and the cardboard box.
  6. Close the box with tape and ensure it is firmly shut.
  7. Label the side of the box with the date and location and/or name of the principal investigator (e.g. August 14, 2017, KHE-317, Alaina Leoz).
  8. If the box contains cytotoxic waste, place the cytotoxic sticker on the box.
Cytotoxic waste sticker

Cardboard boxes with cytotoxic waste should be labelled with a cytotoxic sticker.

Yellow box liner for biological or cytotoxic waste.

Before filling the yellow liner with waste, pull the edges of the yellow liner over the box so that none of the waste misses it. Once the box is approximately 75% full, close the plastic liner and firmly enclose the cardboard box with tape.

Pails

Cytotoxic waste goes into red pails while regular biological waste goes into yellow pails. Cytotoxic and regular waste should not be mixed together.

  1. Before you begin, inspect the pail and lid to ensure there is no damage.
  2. When the pail is approximately 75% full, firmly place the lid on top to seal it. If necessary, use a mallet to ensure it is tightly sealed all the way around.
  3. If possible, use one pail for all serological pipettes to maximize space in the pail.
  4. Label the top of the lid with the date and location and/or name of the principal investigator (e.g. August 14, 2017, KHE-317, Alaina Leoz).
Yellow pail for regular biological waste.

This yellow pail is for regular biological waste. Fill the pail with waste until it is approximately 75% full, then firmly place the lid on top to seal it. If necessary, use a mallet to ensure it is tightly sealed all the way around.

For information about where to get these supplies, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at 416-979-5000, ext. 553770 or ehs@ryerson.ca.

The drop-off and pick-up site for biohazardous waste is in KHN-202-D (located in Kerr Hall North). To access the room, please contact Chemistry and Biology at 416-979-5000, ext. 5313 or Environmental Health and Safety at 416-979-5000, ext. 553770 or ehs@ryerson.ca.

Additional resources

Importing animal or plant pathogens

To understand the risks associated with your human or animal pathogen or toxin, Biological Safety Data Sheets, external link must be consulted and retained in your lab.

When planning to import animal or plant pathogens, users should visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency of Canada, external link’s website on the Importation of Non-Terrestrial Animal or Plant Pathogens, external link.

Biosafety cabinets

To help users with Biosafety Cabinet selection, follow PDF fileBaker's Clean Air and Containment Decision Map for Research Labs.

Legislation

The Biological Safety Program is in compliance by law with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, external link (OHSA), Human Pathogens and Toxins Act and Regulation, external link, as well as with applicable federal regulations regarding biohazardous materials and provisions enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, external link (CFIA). It is also based in accordance with the university’s policy on PDF fileResearch using Biohazardous Materials.