Laboratory safety in Biomedicum

Laboratory safety includes rules, regulations and handling instructions in the areas of biosafety, chemical safety, radiation safety and fire safety. It also includes waste management, risk assessments and environment and sustainability.


Biosafety means the protection of people and environment from exposure to contagious biological material generated in the laboratory.

Issues regarding biosafety safety can be reported to the department's contact person for biosafety, or to the Biosafety coordinator at Karolinska Institutet, Carina Bengtsson.

Biosafety at Karolinska Institutet
Commom facilities and labs in Biomedicum
Permits and risk assessment
Registration, permits and risk assessment for GMM

Biomedicum's Biosafety officers

Björn Andersson

C5 Department of Cell and Molecular Biology

Stefano Gastaldello

Senior research specialist
Translational cardiac and skeletal muscle physiology
C3 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Antonio Gigliotti Rothfuchs

Principal researcher
C1 Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology

Håkan Karlsson

Principal researcher
C4 Department of Neuroscience

Chemical safety

Karolinska Institutet conducts many chemically and environmentally hazardous activities. Chemical handling is surrounded by many laws, rules and regulations - both from Sweden and the EU - covering work environment as well as external environment issues. The purpose of these regulations is to create a safe work environment, to protect the external environment and to ensure a sustainable development.

Room for handling CMR-classified chemicals in Biomedicum.

Chemical safety at Karolinska Institutet

There are a number of hazardous chemicals requiring special handling - Substances with special rules, prohibition or permit requirements.

Issues regarding chemical safety can be reported to the Chemical Safety Coordinator at KI.

Barcodes and purchases of chemicals

A barcode system for identification and registration of chemicals will increase the efficiency of handling chemicals and improve the chemical safety.

All chemicals in Biomedicum will have a barcode with information about name, CAS number, quantity and storage location. This provides a continuously updated list in KLARA of all chemicals, for instance information of storage location, which is extremely important in case of fire or an accident.

All chemicals must be labelled with a barcode before they are relocated. All storage spaces in Biomedicum will be labelled with a barcode, which means that relocated chemicals can quickly be registered at a new storage location.

If chemicals are to be stored in other places, please contact FM Helpdesk for help with generating a new barcode.

When purchasing new chemicals, the user places an order in KLARA's purchase module, which also indicates the storage location. A purchaser at FM, will regularly compile all orders and send them to the respective supplier. Upon delivery, the chemicals labelled with a barcode prior transported to the user.

KLARA chemical register

According to the law (AFS 2014:43 and SFS 1998:901) all organizations and companies must keep a register of chemical products and biotechnical organisms that may pose a risk to health and/or environment.

At Karolinska Institutet, this registry is conducted in KLARA and kept up to date by an annual inventory at the beginning of each year.

Log in to KLARA

Fire safety routines

For emergency routines, follow the procedures in case of emergency in Biomedicum.

More information about Fire Safety at Karolinska Institutet

Fire safety organisation

The KI’s fire safety organisation is designed so that the departments themselves can take responsibility for the working environment and deal with fire safety issues that arise within their operations.

The Facility Management support the departments and work to inform, guide and organize fire safety activities at Biomedicum.

ett schema över brandsäkerhetsorganisationen i Biomedicum
Biomedicum fire safety organisation

By working systematically with fire safety, KI shall ensure that the risk of a fire breaking out and the consequences of such an event are minimized as far as possible. Preventive action, training, self-monitoring, routines and guidelines play key roles here.

As an individual, you have an important part to play in minimizing the risk of a fire, and everyone at KI has a joint responsibility to protect our working environment.

It is the responsibility of all staff to follow the KI fire safety rules, to daily make sure that evacuation routes are kept clear and problems with emergency showers, fire blankets or fire extinguishers are reported to the fire safety supervisor.

fire warden

Evacuation Leaders/Fire Wardens

We do not have appointed fire wardens at KI. The organization is based on the strategy that anyone can act as a fire warden. The reason why KI has chosen this type of evacuation organisation is that KI employees are highly mobile and a high level of staff turnover.

In the event of an evacuation situation, the first person to reach the evacuation station puts on the vest and follows the instructions on the Fire Warden instruction card.

The Fire Warden is responsible for going through the premises and instructing colleagues to evacuate to the assembly point. However, it is important to emphasize that everyone has a personal responsibility to evacuate, and for following the Fire Warden’s instructions.

It is the Fire Warden who contacts the Fire Brigade or a technician from Akademiska Hus when they arrive on site and for announcing – when confirmed by the Fire Brigade or the technician – that it is safe for employees to re-enter the building.

Read more about the Biomedicum evacuation strategy at procedures in case of emergency in Biomedicum.

Fire safety training

It is important that you feel safe on campus and at your workplace. Knowing what to do in the event of a fire alarm and how to deal with a fire at your workplace is an important part of this, as is knowing how to prevent fires within the context of your work.

KI offers all employees fire safety training, including both theoretical and practical content.

Book the course Basic Fire Education.

Workplace introductions

In addition to KI fire safety training, new employees should also be given an introduction in workplace fire safety.

The group leaders are responsible for ensuring that new employees receive introductions, but it is normally the Fire Safety Controller at the quarter who carries out the actual induction.

A checklist has been drawn up, detailing the points that employees need to know about.

Fire safety supervisor at Biomedicum

Flammable goods controller:

1-2 persons from each quarter or group (contact information to be updated shortly)

FM is responsible for all common areas.

Fire safety controller:

1-2 persons from each quarter or group 

FM is responsible for all common areas.

  • DAILY: Evacuation routes should be kept clear and problems with emergency showers, fire blankets or fire extinguishers should be reported to the fire safety supervisor.
    Responsible: All staff
  • QUARTERLY: Inspection of emergency routes, emergency signs, emergency showers and fire blankets. Ensuring that fire extinguishers are checked. Any problems are reported to the fire safety supervisor
    Responsible: The fire safety controllers
  • ANNUALLY: External party revisions of fire extinguishers.
    Responsible: Central administration at Karolinska Institutet and Akademiska Hus.


A number of rules and regulations must be observed when handling gas in order to handle it safely. The safe handling of gas in includes all activities such as delivery and internal transport, storage, and the actual usage of the gas as well as maintenance.

For more information on different types of gases and their risks, trainings, house gases and storage requirements in Biomedicum, see below.

Contact FM Helpdesk for more information and if you need help or guidance.

Gas safety training

Training and good knowledge of different types of gases and their risks are required for all handling of gas, this also includes the transport of gas cylinders. Students or temporary hired staff (consultants) may NOT handle gas cylinders.

Online training (in Swedish) and self-study training (in English) is available via FM, please contact FM Helpdesk for more information.   

Gas handling instructions and risk assessments

Handling of gas, or installations of gas to laboratory equipment requires a risk assessment and handling instructions.

It is important to consider information such as hazards and risks associated to the gas, what control measures are in place, if there is need for alarms, how to perform leakage test or checks, and emergency procedures.  Templates for handling instructions can be provided by FM.

Gas sign Biomedicum

Note that premises, or part of premises, where open handling of flammable goods may cause an explosive atmosphere, requires EX classification and an area classification plan. To avoid explosive environments to arise it is preferable to handle flammable goods in closed systems or in ventilated areas (fume hood, benches etc). For more information, see KI's rules for flammable goods.

hazard pictograms
Inert gas

Different types of gas and their risks


Nitrogen, Helium, Argon, Carbon dioxide

Non-flammable, non-toxic gases include gases which are generally referred to as inert, as they are not reactive. Inert gases are non-oxidising, non-flammable and non-toxic but may dilute or displace the oxygen normally present in the atmosphere. The primary hazard from inert gases is therefore asphyxia, or for CO2 - carbon dioxide intoxication.

Sign oxidising agent
Sign oxidising agent Photo: N/A


Oxygen, Carbogen, Nitrous oxide

Non-flammable, non-toxic gases include gases which are generally referred to as inert, as they are not reactive. Inert gases are non-oxidising, non-flammable and non-toxic but may dilute or displace the oxygen normally present in the atmosphere. The primary hazard from inert gases is therefore asphyxia, or for CO2 - carbon dioxide intoxication.

Hazard pictograms (flammable)
Hazard pictograms (flammable)


Methane, Ethane, Acetylene, Hydrogen, Ammoniac

When mixed with air or oxygen, flammable gases can combust and may explode if they are ignited.  The likelihood that a flammable gas will ignite is affected by its flammability range. The primary hazard from a flammable gas is the risk of fire and explosion, in addition flammable gases have the hazard of asphyxia and some have narcotic effects. 


Hazard pictorgrams (toxic)
Hazard pictograms (toxic)


Hydrogen sulphide, Anhydrous ammonia, Carbon mono

Toxic gases impact people negatively to varying degrees, from a mild irritant to a severe reaction including death, depending on the concentration, exposure, and the susceptibility of the individual.

hazard pictograms
Hazard pictogram (corrosive)


Sulphur dioxide, Chlorine, Hydrogen chloride.

Corrosive gases chemically attack and damage skin, eyes and mucous membranes on contact. Corrosive gases can affect people to varying degrees, ranging from mild and irritating injury, to severe corrosive damage, depending on concentration and situation.

Biomedicum house gases

Carbon dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen (N2) and Carbogen (CO2 + O2) are gases that are centrally provided in Biomedicum.

If other grades of these gases, or other gases, are required, this may be purchased as loose containers. Contact FM Helpdesk for more information.

Note that FM always must be informed before purchasing new types of gases, or if the volumes are increased.

Gas storage requirements in Biomedicum

General storage requirements

  • All bottles should stand upright and be chained to a wall, bench, or gas trolley. This also applies to empty gas cylinders. Smaller gas cylinders don’t require a chain if they stand upright in a metal basket and are not in danger of falling.  
  • Gas cylinders must not be stored near heat sources or hot surfaces, or stored in such a way that they risk mechanical impact.
  • Gas cylinders may not be stored together with combustible materials such as cardboard boxes. 
  • Toxic gases should not be stored together with oxidizing or flammable gases. Flammable gases should not be stored together with oxidizing gases.  
  • Empty bottles and full bottles should be stored separately and be well labeled. 
  • Do not remove or damage the supplier-labels.
  • All gas cisterns should be labelled with the name and telephone number to a contact person.

Flammable gas

Flammable gases must be stored inside the specific gas storage rooms in each block, and according to KI's rules for storing flammable goods, i.e. the gas has to be stored in at least EI 60-rated cabinet/storage room with ventilation. Storage cabinets for flammable goods must be made in accordance with EN 14470-2, type G60 for gas. Cabinets should be colored yellow.  Note that storages of flammable gases might require EX classification. A central pipeline distribution system will provide your equipment/lab space with the gas.  

Flammable gas should not be stored together with oxidizing, corrosive or toxic gases, and not together with combustible materials such as cardboard boxes.

Exception: Small amounts of flammable gas (Campinggas bottles, about 200ml) may be stored inside the fire-rated cabinets together with liquids in general laboratories. However, larger quantities should always be stored in the gas storage rooms, and separately from flammable liquids. 

In exceptional cases, flammable gas cisterns can be stored in a fire rated cabinet G60 in the laboratory premises, from which a metal pipeline distribution system provides the equipment/lab space with the gas, but then this area requires EX-classification.

Oxidizing gas

Oxidizing gases should firsthand be stored in the gas storage room in the block and can be brought out to the laboratory premises temporarily when needed.  If larger quantities are needed (50L cisterns) and the gas is used often, oxidizing gas should be stored in the gas storage room and have a central pipeline distribution system that provide your equipment/lab space with the gas. Small quantities, maximum 20L, oxidizing gas may be stored in the general laboratories, but then a risk assessment must be presented.

Note that oxidizing gases should not be stored together with flammable gases. 

Contact FM Helpdesk to discuss the alternatives.

Toxic gas

Toxic gases must be stored inside the specific gas storage rooms located in each block, in well-ventilated cabinets. Toxic gases may temporarily be present in the general laboratories during use. Risk assessment must be presented.

Toxic gas may not be stored together with flammable gas.

Inert gas

Inert gases can be stored in the quarters, but the size limit of the cisterns in the open laboratories is 20L. When not used, the cisterns should be stored in the gas storage room.

Larger quantities of inert gas may be stored in the general laboratories, but then a risk assessment must be presented.

Note: inert gases may dilute or displace the oxygen normally present in the atmosphere and might require some kind of safety installations such as oxygen alarm or similar.

Contact FM Helpdesk to discuss the alternatives.


Internal transport of biological specimens and chemical products

Transportation of biological specimens and chemical products must always be performed in a safe way for both people and the environment. 

This information applies to indoor transport through public areas in Biomedicum and on walkways within the campus area. Public areas are, for example, open entrance floor, stairwell, culvert, skyway or personnel lifts where many people are in motion.

Internal guidelines for Biomedicum have been established based on KI's rules. The following applies for internal transports within Biomedicum;

  • KI instructions for transport of biological / chemical material must be followed for all transports
  • A local risk assessment must be carried out by the research group for each type of transport
  • The amount of biological material and chemical products being transported should be minimized
  • The material must be packed so that leakage / spillage is prevented even if the packaging is dropped. For guidance, see the document "How to Pack Specimens Correctly", found under “Documents” on KI staff pages. The basic requirement is that the material must be well packaged, enclosed / sealed (without risk of exposure to fumes or similar) and withstand a possible fall. Shopping baskets or other transport packaging must be used
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not allowed in public areas. This should not be needed as transport packaging must be clean from contamination on the outside
  • Transport of large quantities (definition of large: several work samples or a few bottles) of biological / chemical materials must not be made via the personnel lifts. Whether these lifts can be used or not should be assessed in the risk assessment. Transports with wagons and trolleys between Biomedicum and BioClinicum should be made via culvert. If access to Biomedicum transport elevators or liquid nitrogen elevators is needed, contact FM Helpdesk. Major transports, or relocation of chemical storages (which include more than a few work samples of a few bottles), must always be carried out by a moving company.
  • Avoid transport through areas with a high flow of people or where a lot of people are staying. The skyway between BioClinicum and Biomedicum is in connection with a lunchroom at Biomedicum (floor 4). For this reason, transport of chemical / biological material between BC and BM should be made via culvert as far as possible. If the skyway is used, the KI and Biomedicum instructions must be followed.
    Transport of chemical / biological material through cafes and lunchrooms should be made before or after lunch if possible. Between 11.00 am - 13.00 pm, there is a greater risk that collisions and other incidents may occur in these areas.
  • Incidents related to transport of biological / chemical material in Biomedicum must be reported in KI's incident reporting system. Incidents related to Bioclinicum should be reported in both incident reporting systems.
  • The immediate manager is responsible to ensure that employees follow the routines and instructions.
label - to be autoclaved
Label for contaminated lab coats to be autoclaved.

Good Laboratory Practices

  • Good Laboratory Practices (GLPs) are to be followed in the laboratories at all times;
  • Do not eat, drink, apply cosmetics, use tobacco products, or handle food in the lab.
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as lab coats and gloves in the lab, but never in the office areas or common areas.
  • Observe cleanliness and maintain good order in your work environment.
  • Avoid spills, splashes and formation of aerosols when handling liquids or powders.
  • Handle needles and sharps safely. Dispose of these in appropriate sharps containers.
  • Manage waste safely and responsibly. Use correct bins and labeling.
  • It is OK to make mistakes! If you are unsure on how to safely handle a situation, materials, or of the risk associated with any procedure, always seek guidance!

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is to be used at all times in the laboratory.
PPE will protect you against;

  • Exposure to chemicals or biological materials
  • Eye contact with hazardous or corrosive liquids and solids
  • Inhalation of toxic or irritating aerosols/fumes
  • Radiation (ionizing or UV)

PPE is also used to protect your experiments from contamination or other interference.

Lab coats

Lab coats should be worn in the laboratories but removed when leaving the lab and when entering common and office areas.

  • Clean lab coats can be picked up from the room for clean lab glass ware on each floor. If you need clean but autoclaved lab coats, send a ticket to FM Helpdesk to order autoclaved lab coats.
  • Dirty lab coats should be placed in the waste room and will be transported to floor 2 by FM-staff.
  • If you have a contaminated lab coat that needs to be autoclaved (decontaminated) prior to being washed, place it in an autoclave bag and label with the autoclave label available in the quarter waste rooms. Heavily contaminated lab coats should be disposed of in the yellow laboratory waste bins.

Safety glasses

Protective glasses should always be worn when working with the following materials outside of a shielded environment (i.e. fume hoods or ventilated cabinets);

  • Chemicals. Regardless of concentration, chemicals should always be considered toxic.
  • UV light or hot fumes (ånga).
  • Sharps or cutting objects.
  • Bacteria, cell cultures, viruses, GMM, blood/tissues.
  • Working with cold substances at low enough temperatures to cause damage, such as liquid nitrogen and dry ice. Padded gloves should be used.

Please note;

  • The use of contact lenses might increase the risk of eye injury if exposure occurs.
  • Use safety glasses with full cover when working with toxic/corrosive chemicals, if standard laboratory glasses cannot provide full protection.

Respiratory protection

Respiratory protection masks should always be worn when working outside of a shielded environment (such as ventilated workspace) with hazardous materials that might create hazardous aerosols or fumes. Respiratory mask should for example be used when handling the following materials outside of a shielded environment: chemicals that can have an impact on your respiratory tract, CMR and toxic chemicals, viruses and blood-samples.


Protective gloves should always be used when working with:

  • Chemicals. Regardless of concentration, chemicals should always be considered toxic
  • UV light or hot fumes/steam
  • Sharp or cutting objects
  • Bacteria, cell cultures, viruses, GMM, blood/tissues.
  • Cold substances at low enough temperatures to cause damage, such as liquid nitrogen and dry ice. Extra padded gloves should be used.

Gloves should be removed when;

  • Leaving the lab
  • Using computers or other equipment such as keyboards or dials.
  • Rule of thumb: No touching of any door handles with gloves!

Lab glass

There is a central lab washing facility in Biomedicum.

  • Place used lab glass ware in the waste room in your quarter.
  • FM will collect all used lab glass ware from the quarters and transport it to the central dish washing unit on floor 2 on a daily basis.
  • Cleaned and, if needed, sterilized lab glass ware will be placed in the storage room (one per floor).
  • If you have group-specific lab glass ware, place it in a ‘container’ marked with your name and quarter. This will ensure that you will receive the same glass ware.

Follow special instructions if the lab glass ware is contaminated and needs to be autoclaved prior to dish washing. In the lab where the lab glass is used, place the contaminated lab glass in an autoclave bag and seal with autoclave tape. Only then can the bag be placed in the container marked ‘To be autoclaved’ in the waste room.

label - to be autoclaved
Label for items to be autoclaved.

Items to be autoclaved

Pipette tips, tubes, tools, solutions, etc. to be autoclaved

  • Place item in an autoclave bag
  • label with name, quarter and the date when you need it.
  • Put the bag in designated place in the room for clean lab glass ware (one per floor).

If it is done prior to noon, it will be delivered back the same day.

Liquid nitrogen and dry ice

Users register an errand in the Help desk, where the needed volume and delivery date are stated. FM will transport the liquid nitrogen via the prioritized elevator to the user.

Dry-ice (blocks and/or pellets) are kept available on level 2. Small quantities can be picked up by the users when needed. Larger quantities can be ordered separately and delivered to the desired internal address.

Low temperature freezer storage facility in Biomedicum.

Narcotics and pharmaceuticals

As a state-owned scientific institution, Karolinska Institutet does not require a permit for possession of narcotic drugs necessary for scientific research, examination or teaching (Law on Control of Narcotic Drugs, 1992:860, 7§).

Purchasing, handling and storing narcotics and pharmaceuticals is however subject to certain rules and regulations – see Karolinska Institutet Narcotic drugs and narcotic drug precursors.

More information available on Swedish Medical Agency (Läkemedelsverket). See also their list of drugs classified as narcotics.

How to order narcotics and pharmaceuticals in Biomedicum

Departments using narcotic drugs or narcotic precursors often have a pharmaceutical manager who's responsibility is to make sure rules and regulations are followed. They also help with the ordering of substances requiring a prescription, including narcotic drugs.

In Biomedicum you have the possibility to order narcotics and pharmaceuticals either via your department’s pharmaceutical manager, or FM's.

To order narcotics and/or pharmaceuticals via the FM Pharmaceutical Managers

Contact FM Helpdesk, and clearly state the following in your order:

  • Name of the substance (including concentration and volume)
  • Article number
  • Number of items to order
  • Your name (or person who will retrieve the pharmaceutical)
  • Project number (for internal debiting)
  • Ethical permit number
  • Principal Investigator of ethical permit

You will receive an e-mail when the pharmaceutical is delivered and ready for pick-up at goods and logistics at B2.

Radiation protection

All work-related activities with radioactive substances or technical devices capable of generating ionising radiation must be carried out in accordance with the Swedish Radiation Protection Act (1988:220), the Radiation Protection Ordinance (1988:293), Regulations from the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority and local radiation protection rules.

Before work/research involving radiation is initiated some requirements must be fulfilled. Information on this is found here (link to Radiation safety at KI).

Isotope facilities at Biomedicum.

Radiation safety at Karolinska Institutet.  

Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten / Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.


There are special taps for clean water that are placed in the room for apparatus in each quarter. This water has very high quality and is the same or even higher quality than MilliQ-water. Clean water is the same thing as ASTM type II or HPW (High purified water).

In the central lab dish unit located on floor 2, there is a MilliQ-machine (Milli-Q IQ 7000 Ultrapure Lab Water System) for the production of MilliQ-water. This water is tapped in designated glass bottles only used for this purpose and then autoclaved. The bottles are delivered and stored in the room for clean lab glass ware at each floor.

Please note that it is not allowed to install old MilliQ-machines. This will highly increase the risk for contamination of the clean water.

Waste Management

Read more on Waste management specific to Biomedicum.

Consult Karolinska Institutet's rules and guidelines for Laboratory waste.

etikett förorening labutrustrning
Decontamination labels to be used when handling excess laboratory equipment.

How to handle excess laboratory equipment

Checklist with guidelines to follow:

  • Clean/decontaminate the equipment accordingly (depending on what it has been used for).
  • Fill out, sign and place the decontamination label/sticker on the equipment.
  • Contact the financial officers at your department to find out if there is a value registered in the financial system. The dialogue with your accountant/financial officer should continue until the process is finished.
  • The equipment should first and foremost be used within KI. Hence, publish information about your excess equipment on Buy and sell on the Staff portal. Fill in and send the form I have lab equipment to sell/give away.
  • If no one within KI is interested and the ad has been published for 2-3 weeks, it is ok to sell it outside of KI. The price should then be set at market value. Please contact the financial officers at your department for advice.
  • If equipment is sold to an employee within KI, the price must be set at market value including VAT.
  • Equipment that is useless and without value can be discarded. Contact FM Helpdesk for assistance. Please note that equipment without correct labelling will not be handled by FM
  • Please observe that decisions about giving away equipment cannot be taken on group level, since permission from the government is needed.
waste basket

Useful tips

Waste baskets for safe transportations

To ensure a safe transport of different material within and between quarters, there are baskets available in the waste room in your quarter.

Remember to keep the basket clean and wipe it of if it´s gets contaminated. Put it back in the waste room when you are done.

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