Q&A: Biosafety Cabinet Field Certifier Accreditation

  • Open How do I get started?

    Contact biosafetycabinetry@nsf.org and request an application packet for detailed information about the accreditation programs. If you are new to the field of biosafety cabinet certification, you will need training and experience before you can become accredited. A minimum of one year of experience and completion of a training course on biosafety cabinet certification is required prior to applying for enhanced accreditation. Enrollment in a rigorous training course that includes both classroom instruction and hands-on practice is also required to apply under the basic accreditation program.

  • Open How can I get experience testing biosafety cabinets in order to qualify for the enhanced accreditation program?

    NSF understands that the minimum one year of experience is sometimes the most difficult part of fulfilling the application requirements for the enhanced accreditation program, especially with more facilities requiring NSF accreditation for their service providers. While larger companies can pair non-accredited and accredited field certifiers, having both technicians sign off on test reports for cabinets they’ve tested together, this approach does not work for independent contractors and smaller businesses. NSF recommends generating test reports during the training process (using the data from class to prepare a test report), and performing non-certification, “informational” tests wherever possible (i.e. test a certified biosafety cabinet without making any adjustments – it’s good practice for the technician and supports the current certification or helps to proactively identify issues). Mock test reports must include all of the data specified by NSF/ANSI 49. The same biosafety cabinet may be tested multiple times, for example once a week for several months.

  • Open Does NSF offer training courses for biosafety cabinet field certifiers?

    NSF offers training and education courses in several public health-related areas. However, NSF does not offer courses related to biosafety cabinet field certification, but focuses on accreditation of individuals after they receive training. Several well-respected companies offer this training, such as The Eagleson Institute, CEPA Operations and major biosafety cabinet manufacturers. NSF’s applicant guide provides a list of training facilities, along with contact information.

  • Open Why did NSF initiate the new basic accreditation program?

    The steering committee for NSF’s biosafety cabinet field certifier accreditation program recommended the formation of a new accreditation program for certifiers outside North America to better serve the global community and eliminate the negative bias that non-native English speakers faced when taking a three-and-a-half hour written exam in English.

    Current global biosafety cabinet issues, especially in under-resourced countries, include:

    • More than 40 percent of biosafety cabinets are sold into countries that have no certification infrastructure. There is limited access, if any, to trained, experienced personnel to maintain cabinets after they are initially installed.
    • Laboratory personnel may be unaware of industry recommendations regarding proper use and maintenance of biosafety cabinets.
    • Current country frameworks may consider maintenance cost prohibitive.
    • Test equipment for the enhanced accreditation program is costly – it can total more than $20,000 USD for a complete kit.
    • It is difficult to find local companies that calibrate test equipment, and shipping instrumentation overseas costs time and money.
    • Field certifiers outside of North America need to understand multiple international standards for biosafety cabinets, not just NSF/ANSI 49. They may also be asked to certify biosafety cabinets that have not been through third-party “type testing” to a standard for design, construction and performance.
    • There are design differences between biosafety cabinets manufactured in different regions of the world.
    • Type B biosafety cabinets (which rely on building exhaust) are not as common outside of North America.