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Laboratory Safety Workgroup

External Laboratory Safety Workgroup

The ELSW is a workgroup of the Advisory Committee to the Director, CDC (ACD). The ELSW is comprised of external experts in the fields of biosafety, laboratory science, and research. In 2014, the workgroup reviewed CDC documentation (e.g., incident reporting, safety policies), visited CDC laboratories, conducted a laboratory safety culture survey, and met with internal staff and leadership. In culmination of these activities, the ACD proposed recommendations in January 2015, to enhance best practices in laboratory safety and quality within CDC. CDC concurs with these recommendations and has made progress towards implementing them.

ACD Recommendations Concerning Laboratory Safety at CDC, January 2015. ​

On October 29, 2015, the ACD produced a follow-up report on CDC’s progress towards addressing the ACD’s recommendations. It summarized the ELSW’s observations of the steps taken by the agency, suggestions for improvement, and advice towards continued progress. CDC appreciates the time and input of the ELSW members and the constructive guidance of the ACD. CDC concurs with the additional findings highlighted in the follow-up report and has begun addressing them. Steps are underway to realign key laboratory safety functions within the newly formed Office of the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety (OADLSS); this will begin addressing the new recommendations in the follow-up report.  The OADLSS has held extensive staff engagement sessions to garner input from CDC laboratory and safety staff to inform these and other improvements

ACD’s Follow-up Report on CDC’s Progress Concerning Laboratory Safety Recommendations, October 2015

CDC Progress updates to ACD

On April 23, 2015, and October 29, 2015, CDC reported to ACD on progress toward addressing its recommendations and on other laboratory safety improvements being implemented at the agency. CDC’s aim is to improve the culture of laboratory safety across the agency and minimize the risks associated with laboratory work.

CDC Laboratory Safety Progress Update to the Advisory Committee to the Director-April 23, 2015

CDC Laboratory Safety Progress Update to the Advisory Committee to the Director-October 29, 2015

Charge and Functions of the ESLW

  • Reviewing and providing input into corrective actions for CDC’s laboratories. These include actions identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Science following investigations conducted in response to the June 2014 transfer of potentially viable Bacillus anthracis from a CDC BSL-3 facility to CDC BSL-2 facilities; actions identified in follow up to an inadvertent shipment of an H5N1 influenza-containing laboratory specimen to an external BSL-3 laboratory; and other necessary actions identified through ongoing procedural reviews.
  • Prioritizing implementation of additional safeguards across all CDC laboratories.
  • Identifying potential weaknesses and necessary safeguards based on experiences of non-CDC (e.g., private and/or academic) laboratories.
  • Identifying training and oversight needs to promote and sustain a culture of laboratory safety at CDC.
  • Identifying ways to provide stronger safeguards for laboratories across the United States.
  • Examining HHS lab protocols and reporting to the Secretary through the ACD on:
    • Whether current biosafety and biosecurity rules, processes, and procedures are appropriate.
    • Whether implementation or execution of the current protocols is adequate.
    • Recommendations for improving these protocols or their implementation.

External Laboratory Safety Workgroup Meeting Minutes

External Laboratory Safety Workgroup Members