Biotechnology Lab Safety and Waste Disposal

General Safety Procedures

  • Wear gloves and goggles when handling chemicals or working at a lab station
  • Wear silicon gloves (not latex or rubber) when using gas burners or microwaves
  • Use hand protectors or lab mitts and be cautious when handling hot beakers and flasks
  • Close and lock the lids on tubes when heating them in water baths
  • Regularly disinfect hoods and other lab work surfaces
  • Use full-strength cleaners and disinfectants that contain phenol for bacterial cleanup

o For plant tissue cleanup, use 10% bleach or 70% ethanol

  • Place fire extinguishers in several easily accessible places around the lab
  • Install a safety shower and one or more eyewash stations

Waste Disposal

Most municipalities have specific policies for safe waste disposal, so check with your local government officials to understand and comply with any regulations. Most hazardous waste should be transported by professionals, but the following guidelines can be used for general disposal.  

Biohazardous Materials

  • Place waste in properly labeled biohazard disposal bags
  • Place blades, needles and other similar items in sharps-specific receptacles
  • Keep hazardous materials contained and do not overfill any waste containers

Biologically Contaminated Materials

  • Autoclave contaminated items for 15-20 minutes at 15-20 psi before discarding
  • Soak loops and tubes in a 10% bleach solution for 30 minutes before discarding

Chemical Disposal

  • Observe the chemical disposal practices dictated by your local municipality
  • Dispose of specific chemicals (like CuSO₄, AgNO₃, EtBr, and others) properly; do not flush down the drain
  • Label all waste containers with contents, concentration, and date

Glass Disposal

  • Place broken glass into proper receptacles separated from other waste

In addition to following these procedures, talk with your Fisher Science Education sales representative about any safety concerns you may have.


The above information is the property of Ellyn Daugherty, founder of the San Mateo Biotechnology Career Pathway (SMBCP) and author of Biotechnology: Science for the New Millennium, Second Edition, 2017. For more information, visit