The term “containment” is used to describe how laboratory work with infectious and biological materials is to be managed. Containment is achieved by a combination of the right facilities, engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment. The objective of containment is to reduce or eliminate exposure or release of such materials to laboratory workers, other persons, and the environment.


Risk assessments, conducted on a case-by-case basis, take into account the types of biological materials and the experimental procedures, which together drive laboratory and safety equipment needs, regulatory requirements and applicable University policies. A risk assessment that is specific to a laboratory group is ultimately needed for effective containment of research, and should be conducted at the time of facility design in cases in which the scope of work is known.


The main output of a risk assessment is the appropriate combination of facilities specifications, safety equipment, and practices that are necessary to contain research with biological materials. The minimum features appropriate to containment facilities are generalized in this manual.


Facilities specifications include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • placement of HVAC systems
  • water supply and drainage systems
  • access control and security
  • lighting
  • windows
  • biological safety cabinet operation
  • storage
  • power for standard and emergency uses
  • acoustic considerations