FY2018 Biosafety Report & Activity Summary: Executive Summary
The University of Tennessee Biosafety Program is committed to protecting faculty, staff, students, visitors, the general public and the environment from exposures (or potential exposures) to biological hazards, and to ensuring that activities involving biological hazards and the facilities used to conduct such work are in compliance with applicable U.S. Federal, Tennessee State and local laws, regulations, and guidelines. The enclosed report summarizes the FY2018 efforts of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and Biosafety Office toward these goals, including:
- IBC – The IBC welcomed a new chair (Dr. David White) and vice-chair (Dr. Elizabeth Fozo). The committee implemented the iMedRIS web-based compliance management system, reviewed 40 registrations (average approval time = 25 days), revised the charter/bylaws and developed several standard operating procedures (pending distribution and implementation).
- Training – ~2400 individuals received biosafety-related training. More emphasis was placed on electronic/self -study training, accounting for over 60% of all trainees.
- Biosafety support services – The Biosafety Office provided various support services, including laboratory audits, regulatory permit reviews, autoclave validations (coordinated effort with laboratory personnel), and administrative review of IBC documents, material transfer agreements, and research proposals (700 instances, collectively).
- Laboratory audits – The Biosafety Office inspected nearly 80 labs, with only minor findings reported. The most frequently identified issues were insufficient eyewash functionality and/or testing documentation, training documentation, and outdated door signs.
- Reported accidents/exposures – Several accidents/exposures were reported to the Biosafety Office, the majority of which were sharps -related injuries. Sharps injury prevention remains a focus area of the Biosafety Program.
- Professional engagement – The Biosafety Office hosted and presented at the Southeastern Biological Safety Association (SEBSA) annual symposium. Additionally, the Biosafety Offices of UTK and Clemson University organized a peer exchange program review. See report for details and additional highlights.
- FY2019 program objectives – Future aims include, distribution and implementation of the revised IBC charter and related procedures; development and implementation of additional electronic training modules; administrative documentation of research involving exempt recombinant/synthetic nucleic acids; and enhanced communications with research stakeholders.