Safety and Compliance in the Human Physiology Laboratory

Safety and Compliance in Biol 256L

Karri Haen Whitmer

This laboratory course requires that students fully participate in human physiology experiments or assessments each week. Because of this, several weeks require students to pay specific attention to dress code and other instructions that could affect the performance or maintenance of the equipment in the laboratory.

  1. Do not take apart or unplug any physiology equipment. Do not disconnect sensors from iWorx hardware boxes without assistance from your instructor.
  2. Do not disconnect any sensors from a subject’s body by tugging on the wires. Instead, carefully unsnap the sensors from the electrode patch.
  3. Adhesive from electrode patches is to be placed in the specified waste bins, only.
  4. Phone use in lab is prohibited except when a specific application is requested for an experiment (Slack, phone timer, etc.).
  5. Do not use lab computers for accessing unauthorized web content (any web content not required for the class).
  6. Before lab, do not apply lotion or makeup on bodily areas where electrodes or other equipment will be placed.
  7. Please follow weekly dress code requirements provided in the course announcements.


  1. Note the locations of lab safety equipment: emergency shower and eyewash station, fire extinguishers, and first aid kit.
  2. Do not eat, drink, handle contact lenses, store food or beverages, or apply cosmetics in the laboratory unless you are instructed to. Please keep personal water bottles inside your bag.
  3. Students who are pregnant or who have any other medical conditions (e.g. pacemaker or other implanted device) that might necessitate special precautions during lab exercises must inform the instructor.
  4. Use safety glasses in experiments involving the use of hazardous liquids.
  5. Wear disposable gloves when handling blood or contacting body fluids.
  6. Keep all liquids away from the edge of the table to avoid spills. Keep all liquids away from electronic hardware and outlets. Report any spills or accidents to your instructor immediately.
  7. Dispose of waste properly. Sharps (syringes, scalpel blades, etc.), glass, materials contaminated with body fluids, and animal tissues have specific disposal bins in the A&P laboratories. Do not put these in the trash.
  8. Dispose of electrode backing and electrodes in the small can at each station. Fold over used electrodes so the sticky side is adhered to itself and place in small cans. Do not put large objects in the small cans; dispose of these in the regular trash.
  9. Clean up and organize at the end of every lab period. Put away physiology lab equipment at your station so that it is in the same condition you found it.

COVID-19 Precautions

During COVID-19 protocols the laboratory has specific additional guidelines to deter the spread of virus in shared university spaces. From Iowa State EH&S: Physical distancing (six feet/two meters) during the period of community transmission of COVID-19 can be challenging for laboratories, given that researchers might not have dedicated workspaces and may have to use shared equipment.

  • Assume that any person you come into contact with could be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19.
  • Per the recommendations of the CDC and government mandates, maintaining six feet of physical distancing is important to reduce the risks of transmitting COVID-19.
  • Appropriate face coverings should be worn at all times in the laboratory setting. Face coverings must be worn appropriately, with the mask covering both the nose and mouth.
  • Wash hands with soap and water before and after each laboratory session.
  • Follow the guidelines for entering and exiting the laboratory in order to avoid close contact with others.
  • Follow all safety guidelines as specified by your instructor each week in the laboratory. If you do not follow safety guidelines, the instructor may dismiss you from class.
  • DO NOT come to the laboratory if you feel ill. You may join class virtually or complete an alternative activity. You may not schedule an in-person make-up lab due to contact tracing and room capacity guidelines.
  • Students should help clean and disinfect shared laboratory equipment with the provided materials at each workstation, including disinfecting computer keyboard covers. DO NOT spray any cleaning/disinfecting product directly onto electronics.
  • Dispose of single use cleaning materials in the regular garbage can, NOT in the small cans for electrodes at each station.


For additional information pertaining to laboratory safety at ISU, please see the following publication: Laboratory Safety Manual [pdf]

Link here for general safety/emergency response information: Student Emergency and Safety Information (external link)


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A Mixed Course-Based Research Approach to Human Physiology Copyright © 2021 by Karri Haen Whitmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.