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Laboratory Safety at CDC

CDC is committed 24/7 to saving lives and protecting people. CDC’s guiding principles for laboratory work are to ensure the safety of all staff and the community and be as transparent as possible about our work as we conduct high-quality scientific research to protect people in this country and around the world. CDC has created this laboratory safety site as the portal to keep the public informed of our laboratory safety efforts.

Hand writing on an electronic tablet

Progress on Lab Safety

Following laboratory safety incidents at CDC involving select agents, CDC conducted comprehensive internal reviews of each incident.

CDC Labworker

Steps to Make Labs Safe

CDC constantly develops and reviews extensive laboratory guidelines and procedures to protect both the public and laboratory workers.

Lab worker studying test tubes

CDC Labs – A Key Line of Defense

More than fifteen hundred scientists fill the lab benches at CDC, playing a critical role in the agency’s ability to find, stop, and prevent disease outbreaks.

External Laboratory Safety Workgroup (ELSW)

The ELSW—comprised of external experts in the fields of biosafety, laboratory science, and research—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.

Conference table


CDC’s response to the 2014 lab safety issues

  • Halted all CDC lab work until a thorough safety review was conducted
  • Appointed a Director of Lab Science and Safety to enact changes
  • Conducted full investigations of safety-related incidents at the agency
  • Actively engaged an external group of lab experts to review our work
  • Completed extensive inventory of samples/materials in our labs
  • Expanded biosafety training at CDC