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health and safety in the microbiology department

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Introduction

Health and safety in the Microbiology Department The importances of health and safety principles in relation to the tests are taken in the Microbiology department. The role legislation in maintaining health and safety principles. Those who work in Microbiology laboratories are exposed to danger of infection from clinical specimens and laboratory cultures as well as to non-infective dangers such as cuts and other skin injuries, electric shocks, fire and explosion of gases and solvents, burning by corrosive chemicals, and acute and chronic poisoning from exposure to toxic substances. In well regulated laboratories such incidents are rare, but constant attention is required to minimize their frequency. The nature of the risks must be well understood and careful precautions taken on a pre-planned and well organized basis. This understanding and the maintenance of good organisation and procedures is an essential component of the professional expertise of the laboratory worker in effect, simply part of a good technique. Consideration must extend also of those in the general community who may be endangered by the 'escape' of infection, e.g. by careless disposal without prior disinfection or by the occurrence of infection in a laboratory worker who may transmit it to contacts outside the laboratory. Immunity from previous natural exposure to infectious in the general community or resulting from vaccination gives useful protection against the corresponding pathogens when encountered during laboratory work. This does not justify a casual approach, however, since the immunity may not be complete; unexpected and unusual or exotic pathogens may be encountered in day-to-day work and it is wise to regard all human excretions, secretions, blood serum, tissues and derivatives thereof as potentially infectious. Occurrence of Infections It is difficult to assess how often infections are acquired during laboratory work because of the lack of the systematic collection and publication of information. Tuberculosis This has long been recognised as presenting a serious hazard to laboratory workers. ...read more.

Middle

* Transport of specimens. Improperly packaged and inadequately closed samples may leak and contaminate wrappings and attached forms during delivery to the laboratory. * Disposal. Contamination, injury or infection may occur at many points in the procedures for collecting discarded cultures, specimen containers and used equipment, and their documentation, washing or incineration. Discarded 'sharps' (needles, scalpels, etc.) are a particular danger. Safety Organisation Safety codes Increasing realization of the importance of laboratory infection has led to the establishment of regulatory authorities in a number of countries. A further important influence in Britain has been the passing of Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which gives legislative grounds on which current codes of practice and their enforcement are based. Two principal documents provide guidance on the prevention of laboratory infection and containment of pathogens in Britain. These are (1) the code of practice for the prevention of infection in clinical laboratories and post-mortem rooms - the 'Howie Code' (1978) which considers infection risks in all types of clinical laboratory, and (2) the Report of the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens on the Categorisation of pathogens according to Hazard and Categories of Containment (ACDP) 1984. Laboratory workers in Britain must be familiar with both documents. In Britain, pathogens (bacteria, chlamydias, rickettsias, mycoplasmas, viruses, fungi and parasites) are categorized into four hazard groups, based on the inherent hazard of the organism. Group 1 An organism that is most unlikely to cause human disease. Group 2 An organism that may cause human disease and which might be a hazard to laboratory workers but is unlikely to spread in the community. Laboratory exposure rarely produces infection and effective prophylaxis or treatments are usually available. Group 3 An organism that may cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to laboratory workers. It may present a risk of spread in the community but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available. Group 4 An organism that causes severe human disease and is a serious hazard to laboratory workers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Safety Cabinets These cabinets provide a barrier between the worker and infectious material and are designed to prevent infection by splashing or by aerosol. Disinfectants Disinfectants are needed in the Microbiology laboratories for the skin, work surfaces, discard jars and spillages. Use as few kinds as possible to avoid confusion and explain their function and limitations to all who use them. Skin and work surfaces can be decontaminated with 70% ethyl alcohol (industrial methylated spirits with 1% glycerol as an emollient for skin use). This will kill vegetative bacteria and some viruses. If there is any fire hazard and especially if viruses or bacterial spores pose a problem, sodium hypochlorite solution, a cheap disinfectant and rapidly lethal to most bacteria and viruses, may be used. However, it is ineffective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is neutralized by organic material and is corrosive to metals, but it is free from any marked or persistent irritant or toxic effect. For disinfecting clean surfaces or skin a 1% solution of commercially available hypochlorite solutions such as Chloros or Domestos is adequate. These proprietary disinfectants are 10% solutions of sodium hypochlorite containing 100 000 p.p.m. of available chlorine. Prolonged exposure of skin to hypochlorite should be avoided, the disinfectant being washed off as soon as possible under running water. Each work place in the laboratory should be provided with one or more deep plastic discard jars filled with disinfectant for the disposal of contaminated pipettes, slides, ineffective residues, etc. a bottle of disinfectant must be kept for spillages. For discard jars, spillages or any situation where there is organic or tuberculous material a phenolic disinfectant should be used as these disinfectants are more resistant to inactivation than hypochlorine. If work with viruses being is being carried out, pipette jars should be filled with hypochlorite solution containing 2500 p.p.m. available chlorine and for blood spillage 10 000 p.p.m. may be used. If there is much organic matter in a virus spillage or if the corrosive effect of hypochlorite might affect equipment, 2% glutaraldehyde should be used. Constant exposure to glutaraldehyde can give rise to sensitization. ...read more.

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