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October is National Biosafety and Biosecurity Month

This October is the 9th anniversary of National Biosafety and Biosecurity Month, an event sponsored by the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA). Instead of a theme for this year, ABSA is promoting bringing Biosafety and Biosecurity Month back to its core components, including the importance of training. Training of laboratory employees is an essential component of any biosafety program, and this is a great time to review training practices at your facility.

As described in the CDC/NIH publication Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 6th Edition, employees working in facilities that handle and store hazardous biological agents must be able to properly identify all potential hazards and be trained and proficient in necessary safe practices and procedures. Management and leadership are responsible for providing and arranging the appropriate training of all personnel based on their functional roles and responsibilities in support of the biosafety program.

Regardless of the biosafety level of your laboratory, all laboratory personnel must receive appropriate training regarding their duties, potential hazards, manipulations of infectious agents in use, necessary precautions to minimize exposures, and hazard/exposure evaluation procedures (e.g., physical hazards, splashes, aerosolization).

The BMBL also specifies that training in emergency response procedures should be provided to emergency response personnel and other responsible staff. This includes training on different types of emergency situations including biological spills, exposures, medical emergencies, and facility or equipment malfunctions.

Additional training may be required depending on the biological materials in use and the scale of the work. Supplemental training needed might include safety precautions for the use of non-human primate (NHP) material, viral vectors, and materials known to, or that potentially contain bloodborne pathogens. The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard has very specific training content requirements.

In addition, the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard specifically requires that annual training be provided within one year (i.e., 12 months) of the previous training. The BMBL also specifies that general biosafety training should be provided on an annual basis and that additional training should be provided when equipment, procedures, or policies change.

In addition to training for lab employees, all persons entering areas where biological material is used and stored should be advised of the potential hazards, be instructed on the appropriate safeguards, and know that they should read and follow instructions on practices and procedures. Because of this, a policy regarding visitor training should also be considered.

For additional information on National Biosafety and Biosecurity Month, or for assistance with your biosafety training program, please email us at [email protected].

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