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Physical Contaminant Facilities with special focus on PC2 Lab

Working in a laboratory can be hazardous. The scientists and technicians have to work in a very controlled environment where they work in complete safety, and it reduces the risk posed by various microorganism. For every laboratory to operate, they must acquire all the certifications and licenses, and ensure to adhere with the stringent regulations and protocols that ensure complete safety of the people working in the lab and the surrounding environment. Hence it is important that every lab must focus on maintaining proper protocol. In this blog, we are going to discuss what is a PC lab and the different types of PC labs especially the PC2 Lab.

What are the different PC Levels?

PC1- This lab is suitable for conducting activities with less hazardous microorganisms and follow all the safety protocols and adequate practices.

PC2-PC2 lab is suitable to conduct experiments involving Risk Group 2 organisms. These labs are also used for conducting experiments with aerosols or with microorganisms that are transmissible. The PC2 labs have a biosafety cabinet where all the experiments are performed.

PC3 and PC4- These labs are equipped with facilities to perform experiments on Risk Group 3 and Risk Group 4 microorganisms.

The Physical Containment (PC) focuses on the design of the lab when working with different type of microorganisms.  Besides, there are some special requirements which the lab needs to meet if they are working on the GMOs.

What does it take for PC2 lab certification?

In Australia, there are only 176 PC2 labs that are certified and licensed. This certification is a guarantee that the lab is equipped with all the facilities, equipment and is following all the safety protocols that will ensure safe experiments. The inspection of the lab is done at regular intervals to keep a check on the safety measures adopted by the lab management and staff. For the certification, the following documents are a must:

  • OGTR PC2 documents. This includes Guidelines for Certification of the apt PC2 facility and Guidelines for Transport, Storage and Disposal of GMOs. The lab members should know what is required and must be familiar with all the requirements.

Besides, copies of the following are also required. 

  • Applications for NLRDs and DNIRs
  • NLRD approval letters from the IBC
  • Licence variations issued by the OGTR
  • Training record which is up to date list of individuals who are trained and qualified. The record should have the name of all the lab members, their qualifications, and the date for completion of The Australian National University Biological Safety Course and Gene Technology Practices Course.
  • In case there is a requirement of additional training, the lab workers should undergo the training asap, and present the relevant proof of the same in the Facility Manual.
  • The PC2 lab must follow the standard operating procedure for local area GM waste transport, sterilisation and spill procedures. 

PC2 lab inspection- the lab inspection is done annually by the IBC, and there can be a visit by the members of the OGTR. The lab managers are pre-informed about the visit, and they must adhere to the checklist, which includes the following:

  1. There should be proper infrastructure with enclosed walls, doors and windows in the lab.
  2. The lab must have all the facilities to conduct the experiment with all the safety protocols.
  3. There must open spaces below benches and equipment.
  4. Hands free wash basin
  5. It must have a biosafety cabinet if the experimentation on aerosols is performed in the lab to ensure that the specimens are kept in safe environment.

Conclusion

These are a few of the important parameters which has to be followed by any PC2 lab and must ensure a safe place of work. The safety protocols, regulations and codes are all specified by the government and every lab must adhere to them for a hassle-free operation. The lab staff must undergo proper training to ensure that they are qualified to work in the lab and conduct experiments.

Michael Hunt

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