Use of Biohazard Labels in the Laboratory Operations

Biohazardous waste consists of any items that contain blood, body fluids, or other infectious material that are highly likely to transmit infections and diseases to humans or pose an environmental risk. The waste comprises of biomedical waste, sharps, and clinical waste among others. Therefore, OSHA requires lab workers and anyone who deals with these biohazards waste to use labels indicating that a container contains hazardous materials. A biohazard label is a safety label used in the workplace to enhance safety and efficiency as well as allow easy identification of the contaminated equipment containers, materials, and rooms.

Specifications of the Labels

A biohazard label contains a universal symbol followed by the term “biohazard.” The state and federal government regulate the labels to ensure that they all protect the employees working in dangerous places. The label should be a fluorescent orange or orange-red color while the letters and the symbol should take a contrasting color, preferably black. It is ideal to print the labels on glossy paper that has a smooth finish making it scuff and scratch resistant.

The adhesive used on the label should be permanent and compatible with a wide variety of substrates. The biohazard label should be part of the container or placed as close as possible near the containers or the biohazardous material using a wire or an adhesive to prevent loss or unintentional removal. The labels are available in rolls of 10, 25, 50, and 100, so getting one is not a problem.

How to Label Items

OSHA requires companies to affix biohazard labels on the freezers and refrigerators that contain blood or OPIM, containers of regulated waste, contaminated equipment. The lab personnel should also place labels on the sharp waste containers, containers that handle, store, and transport the blood or OPIM specimen and the bags containing contaminated clothes for laundry. There are, however, exceptions for the decontaminated waste as well as containers carrying blood and its components used for transfusion or other clinical applications. Any other containers or laundry bags that bear an alternative label do not require a label too.


Placing the biohazard labels on storage and waste containers containing materials that pose health risks to people is important in preventing contact with the infectious organism and keeping employees away from danger. Biohazardous products are harmful than other hazards in the workplace since they are not visible with naked eyes hence the need to label them. Only lab personnel should remove and transport the material from the lab area to the holding areas to minimize the risks involved.