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For BSL1 work, is a hand sanitizer station near the lab exit sufficient?


We are in the early stages of building out a BSL1 space, and trying to figure out our sink strategy. For BSL1 work, is a hand sanitizer station near the lab exit usually deemed sufficient, or will we need to provide a 2nd sink for hand washing?

Answer from a Biosafety Officer:

February 14, 2014

The best resource for laboratory design in terms of biological safety is Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The BMBL describes specific laboratory facility requirements for biosafety level 1 (BSL1) through biosafety level 4 (BSL4) laboratories. For BSL1 laboratories, the BMBL recommends a handwashing sink in the lab, but does not prescribe a location.  For BSL2 laboratories, the BMBL recommends a handwashing sink near the exit door of the laboratory.  **Cautionary Note from the DIYbio Ask A Biosafety Experts:  Work with high risk infectious agents that require BSL-3 and BSL-4 facilities, expert training, work practices, security and biosafety support, and adherence to specific regulations MUST NOT be performed by DIY Biologists in home or community laboratories.


From your question, it does sound like you will have a sink in the lab.  If that is the case and as long as it can be used for handwashing, then a single sink is appropriate.  Adding a hand sanitizer station near the exit will be sufficient.  Keep in mind, that a set up without a sink near the exit will preclude the lab from ever conducting BSL2 work. Keep in mind that guidance in the BMBL is often interpreted into policy when inspected by a governing body.  Thus at BSL2, a handwashing station is a “must”, not a recommendation.


Prior to final design, you should also consider any local regulations in terms of laboratory design and oversight.  While not common, a number of cities do have these regulations. Additionally, if you are in the beginning stages of planning out facility, it is prudent practice to add a handwashing station of some sort and to plumb in an eyewash station as well. If your work becomes more robust in the future, it will be more difficult to retrofit all that.

For more information refer to the BMBL (pg 33 and 37)  -