Safety in the Microbiology Lab
* Clinical specimens received from patients pose a hazard to personnel health because of the infectious agents they may contain. * Spurred by the spread of HIV/AIDS, the CDC has recommended safety precautions concerning the handling of patient materials by health care workers. * Universal precaution (or blood and body fluid precaution). * Emphasis on good knowledge and common sense.
* Safety is everybody’s business :
From the Employer → Safety Officer → Employee
Functions of the Employer:
* To educate the employees about handling infectious agents. * To educate those people who only have exposure to the lab environment. (custodial personnel, delivery) * Provision of safe working environment.
* To provide maintenance of: PPE (Protective Personal Equipment), safety equipment, ensure training opportunities.
Functions of the Safety Officer:
* Knowledge of safety regulations and development of safety procedural manual. * Ensures safety manual is in place for each lab session. * Ensures each person is intact with what is required as it relates to safety. * Assesses familiarity with current safety practices e.g. drills, routine, periodic and unannounced drills.
Functions of the Employee:
* To take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and others who may be affected by their work. * Ultimately, the onus is on ALL persons working in the lab environment to practice safe techniques for their own and their co-workers safety. * To ensure correct application and use of safety equipment provided. * Not to interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interest of health. * Report any accidents to the person in charge.
* To comply with the required safety training.
* Different countries have codes, guidelines and policies to reduce the risks posed. * Safe handling, storage and disposal of chemical and radioactive substances. * Handling of potential BIOTERRORISM agents e.g. Antrax, small pox, Bacillus antracis, Francisella, tularensis. * Lab/hospital policies for correct procedures in the event of fire, natural disasters or even bomb threats.
Biological hazards refer to organisms produced by these organisms that are harmful to human health e.g. bacteria, parasite, fungi and protein. They enter us through respiratory tracts and cause poisoning, vomiting etc. Two main sources are from processing of patients’ specimens and handling of actively growing cultures.
Classification of Risk
Pathogens are categorized according to the risk they pose to the lab and outer community.
Bio-safety Level 1 (BSL1) and Containment Level 1
Examples of BSL1 agents: Bacillus subtilus, Naegleria gruberi, many Escherichia coli, Infectious Canine Hepatitis Virus. BSL1 containment is suitable for work involving well-characterized agents not known to cause disease in healthy adult humans, and of minimal potential hazard to laboratory personnel and the environment. A BSL1 lab requires no special design features beyond those suitable for a well-designed and functional laboratory. Biological safety cabinets (BSCs) are not required. Work may be done on an open bench top, and containment is achieved through the use of practices normally employed in a basic microbiology laboratory.
Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2) and Containment Level 2
Examples of BSL2 Agents: Bacillus anthracis, Bordetella pertussis, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium tetani, Helicobacter pylori, most Salmonella, Yersinia pestis, Mycobacterium leprae, Shigella, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Human blood. The primary exposure hazards associated with organisms requiring BSL2 are through the ingestion, inoculation and mucous membrane route. Agents requiring BSL2 facilities are not generally transmitted by airborne routes, but care must be taken to avoid the generation of aerosols (aerosols can settle on...