The purpose of the presentation was to present the results of a project conducted in Belgium. This project aimed to identify and evaluate the existing biosafety program within educational institutions during teaching laboratories using microorganisms. Teaching laboratories are somehow particular cases as they implicate dense groups of students which generally have a limited experience and awareness of the biological risks of laboratory work with microorganisms.
The project started with a written preliminary study. A detailed questionnaire composed of general and more specific biosafety points for teaching laboratories was provided to the institutes. Furthermore, every institute has been visited and evaluated during the teaching laboratories. Finally, a proposal of biosafety guidelines was written which allowed feedback from the sector concerned.
Specific themes were evaluated during the study: the facility, the microorganisms, the risk assessment, the personal protective equipment, the inactivation of contaminated material and waste, and the training. Some biosafety stumbling blocks were frequently encountered during the microbiology teaching laboratories.
Keeping a future career involving microorganisms in mind, it is of great importance to develop a correct biosafety attitude from the very beginning. For this, the bottlenecks identified during the study have to be solved. The students have to be trained properly in the laboratory practices and procedures and educators teaching microbiology to students have the responsibility to encourage increasing awareness of the potential risks of microorganisms.