When performing experiments for our project RECOVER with the range of chemicals, reagents, and genetically modified organisms in the lab, our team members were conscious of the importance of biosafety too. All relevant laboratory safety manuals, including those from the WHO, CDC, NIH, and HSS were followed in our work. The project's functionality and design adhered to the standards outlined in the handbooks, ensuring its dependability and biosafety for the environment and all living beings.


Personal protective equipment (PPE): 

According to the WHO Laboratory Safety Manual Laboratory, the following criteria are considered while choosing the appropriate PPE for our wet lab experiments

  • Protective laboratory coats, masks, and head caps were made mandatory to prevent contamination of personal clothing.
  • Protective eyewear was mandatory to wear when conducting procedures that had the potential to create splashes of microorganisms or other hazardous materials. Persons who wore contact lenses in laboratories also wore eye protection.
  • Wearing gloves was crucial to protect hands from exposure to hazardous substances, and the selection of gloves was based on a thorough risk assessment. We had latex glove alternatives readily accessible. Handwashing before leaving the laboratory was a necessity. Nitrile gloves were used when handling the carcinogenic Ethidium Bromide. Gloves were changed if they became contaminated, lost their integrity, or when necessary. After working with hazardous materials, gloves were always removed, and hands were washed before leaving the lab. Disposable gloves were never washed or reused; instead, they were disposed of with other contaminated laboratory waste. Strict adherence to handwashing protocols was maintained for safety.
Containment strategy

In our laboratory, strict protocols were in place to ensure safety and hygiene in compliance with the WHO  laboratory safety manual Within the laboratory, activities such as eating, drinking, smoking, wearing contact lenses, using cosmetics, or storing food were prohibited to prevent contamination. We also enforced the use of mechanical pipetting devices instead of mouth pipetting and emphasized the cautious handling of needles and sharp objects.   Moreover, we took additional precautions during experimental procedures to minimize the generation of splashes and aerosols. Work surfaces were diligently decontaminated both after tasks and in the event of spills, utilizing appropriate disinfectants. To maintain a safe environment, all cultures, stocks, and materials with infectious potential underwent thorough decontamination before disposal, following established protocols. These practices collectively ensured the integrity of our laboratory operations and the safety of all personnel involved.   

Facility requirements:   

According to the CDC’s Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual ,our laboratory facilities incorporated several key design and safety features. Access control was essential, necessitating the installation of doors for controlled entry. Adequate hand hygiene was crucial, so our laboratory was equipped with a sink for hand washing. To maintain cleanliness and prevent contamination, our laboratory was designed for easy cleaning, which meant avoiding the use of carpets or rugs.   In compliance with WHO laboratory safety manual , laboratory furniture was robust enough to support anticipated loads and tasks, with accessible spaces between benches, cabinets, and equipment for efficient cleaning. Benchtops were impermeable to water and resistant to heat, organic solvents, acids, alkalis, and other chemicals to ensure durability and safety. Chairs used were covered with non-porous materials that were easy to clean and decontaminate using appropriate disinfectants. Screens were installed at windows opening to the exterior to prevent unwanted intrusion and maintain a secure environment. These design considerations collectively contributed to our safe and efficient laboratory space.


Before initiating our project, our team underwent training in "laboratory experiment biosafety procedures" and earned certification. Additionally, students conducting wet lab experiments received a 3-day training program covering general wet lab protocols and biosafety guidelines for their experiments. This training included detailed instructions on procedures like transformation, SDS-PAGE, competent cell preparation, inoculation, and plate spreading.

Our project focused on Escherichia coli K12 and Synechococcus elongatus BDU 47113, both categorized as Biosafety Level 1 organisms, indicating minimal risk to both personnel and the environment and were also non-pathogenic. In our BSL-1 lab, we followed strict protocols: lab coats, masks, gloves, and hair caps were mandatory, and closed-toe shoes were required. Regular lab fumigation occurred every 3 weeks. No food or drinks were allowed in the lab. We used open-fronted laminar airflow chambers with inward airflow to protect experimenters and the environment. Air was filtered before being discharged or recirculated. We provided Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all experiments to ensure clarity.  

All our experiments were carried out under the instruction and supervision of Dr. V. Gayathri (primary investigator); Dr. R. Jayasree (secondary investigator); and Ms. K. S. Shreenidhi, (instructor). They are familiar with and constantly employ all the procedures that we have implemented in our project. We are grateful for their constant support and guidance.

Risk Management Tools

In accordance with the WHO Lab Safety Manual Laboratory Biosafety Manual, our laboratory operated at Biosafety Level 1 (BSL-1), which signified a fundamental level of containment, relying solely on standard microbiological procedures. There were no specific primary or secondary containment measures recommended, apart from the presence of a handwashing sink.
We had established comprehensive accident reporting procedures, which included an emergency contact number and contact information for the responsible instructor. In line with safety measures, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as lab coats, gloves, and masks was obligatory for all team members.
Furthermore, our facility was equipped with emergency eye washers to address potential eye-related incidents. We had implemented protocols to manage spillages or breakages effectively according to CDC guidelines. To bolster safety measures, a fire extinguisher had been strategically positioned within the laboratory, serving as a vital component of our safety protocols.

Spillage protocol

According to NIH,non-pathogenic agents or agents that had low virulence were covered with paper towels to help contain the material and limit aerosolization. Wearing gloves, a lab coat, and eye protection, a freshly made 10% bleach solution was poured on the spill, working from the outer edge toward the centre. The material was allowed to sit for the appropriate contact time (30 minutes minimum). At the end of the contact time, the material could be picked up and disposed of in an autoclave bag or medical pathological waste (MPW) box. When cleaning, the process started at the outside and wiped in concentric rings toward the centre.  

Hardware & Deployment

Safety Standards for "The Nautical Nexus "

"The Nautical Nexus " is engineered in strict compliance with IEEE Std 45-2002, the recognized standard for shipboard electrical installations. The device's design and functionalities fulfill the various criteria outlined in the standard, including but not limited to enclosure types, temperature limits, control console components, and electrical safety, thereby ensuring its reliability and safety in maritime applications.   

Enclosures and Temperature Limits

Conforming to Sections 10.4 and 10.17, the device is housed in a corrosion-resistant, metallic, watertight enclosure designed for maritime conditions. The Qi wireless charging coil integrated into the device meets the temperature rise limits set in Section 10.17. The Qi standard, developed by the Wireless Power Consortium, enables power transfer, conforming to magnetic induction methodologies. The device supports both low-power and medium-power Qi categories, ensuring versatile compatibility and utility.

Qi Data Protocol

The Qi standard enables communication between the base station and mobile device using a limited data transmission system. This system optimizes charging efficiency by providing information about the state of charge and allows for real-time adjustments in power output, conforming to IEEE electrical safety guidelines.

Control Console Design 

Designed in alignment with Sections 9.24 and 9.25, "The Nautical Nexus " minimizes structural vibrations. The control console components such as relays, pushbuttons, and connectors are marine-grade and hermetically sealed, as required by IEEE specifications.

Component Robustness

In accordance with Section 9.26, the device incorporates a 32-bit microcontroller and a 6-axis IMU with readable gauges for roll, pitch, and temperature, clearly labelled to indicate normal operating conditions.

Corrosion Resistance

The device's hardware components, including bolts, nuts, pins, screws, and terminals, are compliant with Section 10.14, being either made of corrosion-resistant materials or treated to resist corrosion effectively.

Electrical Safety

Conforming to Sections 9.24, 9.25, and 9.26, "The Nautical Nexus " employs solderless terminal connectors with locking devices, meeting the size requirements for ship cable connections as stipulated in IEEE Std 45-2002.
By rigorously adhering to the IEEE Std 45-2002 and the Qi wireless charging standard, "The Nautical Nexus " delivers a high standard of safety, reliability, and operational excellence. It is therefore positioned as a robust and versatile asset for any maritime application.

Environmental Safety

According to HSS Open-fronted cabinets with an inward airflow designed to protect the team member   performing the experiment and the environment from infectious aerosols was generated. The air discharged is passed through an appropriate filter (for example, a HEPA filter) before being discharged or recirculated into the laboratory Decontamination and discards are discarded in a biohazard waste container for environmental safety. Uncontaminated materials can be disposed of as general municipality waste. Liquid waste including potentially contaminated liquids should be decontaminated before disposal in the sanitary sewer. Contaminated material for disposal and incineration must be decontaminated onsite or stored safely before transportation.   

Emergency Readiness

In compliance with NIH , procedures for reporting accidents, including an emergency contact number and the responsible instructor's details, were provided. We had an emergency eye washer within our premises. We did have first aid kits inside our lab. Records of safety inspections, incidents, and equipment maintenance were documented and consistently revised. We had appropriate spillage and breakage protocols maintained according to guidelines provided by the World Health Organization. A fire extinguisher had been positioned within our laboratory facility, serving as a crucial element for upholding safety measures.    

Ethics & Regulations

Biosafety Committee

At our institution, a biosafety committee and a bioethics committee were designated. They supervised the maintenance of suitable working conditions within the laboratories, which involved overseeing the proper disposal of Petri dishes and liquid waste, ensuring sanitation, and providing guidance on correct laboratory practices. Our set of guidelines encompassed a wide range of safety policies and procedures, spanning from specific rules for each laboratory to general behavioural expectations.

As examples, we explicitly prohibited the presence of food and beverages in the laboratory. Additionally, we followed a comprehensive clean-up protocol: used tips were placed in designated waste bins and autoclaved before disposal. Our instructors thoroughly familiarized us with various experimental techniques.
We had adhered to ethical and regulatory guidelines set forth by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and National Institute for Health (NIH). As both organisms utilized in our research were non-pathogenic, ethical concerns did not arise.

Collaboration & Training

We visited the port and engaged in discussions concerning various aspects and our apprehensions about the successful implementation of our system. We sought clarification regarding the appropriate installation of our system on ships. Additionally, we underwent safety training conducted by the Pollution Control Board.

  1. World Health Organization (WHO), Laboratory Biosafety Manual 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories
  3. National Institute of Health Division and Occupational Health and Safety (NIH)
  4. United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)   
  5. IEEE Recommended practice for Electric Installations on Shipboard, in IEEE Std 45-2002 (Revision of IEEE Std 45-1998)