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Remember the Importance of a Comprehensive Post-Exposure Policy

Does your biosafety program include a detailed post-exposure policy that clearly specifies the steps to follow in the event of an exposure incident?

The last thing you want to be doing following an incident involving an exposure to potentially infectious material, or material known to be infectious, is figuring out the comprehensive steps to take. Proper incident response is critical to worker health and safety. The detailed steps to follow post exposure should be described in the biosafety manual and/or exposure control plan, and covered during new employee and annual training sessions. Consider including points such as incident reporting, confidential medical evaluation through an established occupational health center agreement, post-exposure screening of the biological material involved, incident review, recordkeeping requirements, and follow-up medical evaluation and treatment.

If human blood or other potentially infectious material is being utilized in the laboratory, and laboratory workers are therefore covered by OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030(f)(3) stipulates the requirements for post-exposure evaluation and follow-up. One of the stipulated requirements is the testing of the source individual’s blood to determine HBV and HIV infectivity. The legal requirements surrounding obtaining the source individual’s consent to conduct this testing should be considered when initiating work with human blood or other potentially infectious material.

When working with any other potentially infectious material or material known to be infectious, ensure that proper response procedures and material testing protocols are in place prior to initiating work. An example would be having a procedure in place to screen macaque source material for B virus in the event of an exposure.

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