Biosafety

Responding to an Exposure Incident – The Steps to Take

Would you know what to do if an employee at your company had a needlestick injury or other exposure incident?  Other routes of exposure to biological material include accidents with other types of sharps as well as exposure to the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and non-intact skin.

Don’t be caught off guard! 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 appropriate steps to take.  Proper incident response is critical to worker health and safety.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that these steps be followed after an exposure incident:

Step 1, provide immediate care to the exposure site: this includes washing the puncture area for 15 minutes with soap and water.  Remember, do not force bleed the wound!  Splashes to the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, or non-intact skin) should also be […]

OSHA Announces Safe + Sound Week 2019

OSHA has announced that Safe + Sound 2019 will be held August 12-18, 2019.  This national event is intended to promote the value of workplace health and safety programs.

OSHA is encouraging employers to share the safety successes they have enjoyed over the past year during this week.  Employers are encouraged to hold events and activities that highlight the elements of their health and safety program during this week.  Developing fun interactive activities can engage employees and remind them of the established policies in a creative way.  Even though it is a long way away, take advantage of the long lead time to develop daily activities to highlight the importance of your EHS program!  You have plenty of time to prepare and think about the daily themes to cover during this week.

Updated MA Law for Public Workplaces

The updated Law M.G.L. Chapter 149 § 6 ½ requiring public sector workplaces to comply with OSHA regulations went into effect on February 1, 2019.  While this is a significant change for public workplaces, OSHA does continue to have jurisdiction over private employers. The Massachusetts requirements found in this updated law are as strict as the OSHA regulations.

The update clarifies that the definition of public sector workplace includes counties, municipalities, all state agencies, quasi-public independent entities, courts, bureaus, commissions, divisions or authorities of the commonwealth, political subdivisions, and public colleges and universities.  The Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards is responsible for enforcing this law at public sector workplaces.

If you have not heard about this update, know that public workplaces are now responsible for complying with OSHA regulations.

 

 

Making Safety Training Fun

“I Love Safety Training!”

Wait…what?  Have you heard many people utter these words before?

It is easy to say that the importance of developing an effective safety training program should not be overlooked, but how do you put a fun and therefore effective safety training program into practice?

Developing a robust new employee safety orientation that encompasses a safety tour of the facility and interactive sessions to demonstrate the safety policies will likely improve material retention.  If new hires are forced to sit through hours of lectures to cover material that checks the boxes for various regulations, the details will be lost in the myriad of information given to them on their first day at a new job.  Encourage questions, ask questions, and get to know the new hires’ previous experiences with safety.  Start to build trust that a collaborative environment will be fostered from day one.

Even though annual refresher trainings are mandatory, this does not mean […]

Gap Analyses Benefit Everyone

If you have never conducted a gap analysis or if it has been some time since the last one, consider investing in this invaluable process.  Even if you have established a robust program, a gap analysis can provide input into what areas could use improvement or redefined focus.

A gap analysis should start with a thorough review of your EHS needs and an evaluation of the regulatory standards that are applicable to your site based on the work being conducted. This should include taking a deep dive into the hazardous materials present and how they are being stored, manipulated, and disposed of. When reviewing compliance with permit and license requirements, consider any permits or licenses that may have been overlooked due to changing needs or regulatory updates.

Gap analyses almost always produce a list of action items. Nice to have or do items that fell off the radar may be re-identified during the gap analysis and […]

Start Preparing OSHA Form 300A

All establishments covered by OSHA’s Part 1904 are required to complete Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, on an annual basis.

This form summarizes the number of recordable work-related injury and illness cases, the number of days work was affected, and the types of injuries and illnesses.  Information about the company, including the average number of employees and total hours worked by all employees must also be recorded.  Form 300A must be posted from February 1 through April 30 of the year following the year covered by the OSHA 300 log.  Even if no recordable incidents or illnesses occurred during the previous year, the 300A form must be completed and posted reflecting zeros.  While going through this process, also take the time to review the incidents on the OSHA 300 log to ensure they have been recorded properly.

If you have not started completing this form already, be sure to get started so you […]

2018 Safety Tip Roundup

In 2018, we shared 49 safety tips to provide information on compliance, safety, and organization that can help your lab work in accordance with all guidelines!

Safety Santa, the bearer of lab coats, aprons and glasses to scientists all over the world, swung into the office last night and left us a roundup of 12 of his favorite tips!

 

  1. Avoid Unknowns
  2. Share Hazard Assessments
  3. Keep Emergency Planning Documents up to Date
  4. Update Inspection Preparedness Guidance
  5. Remember Proper Lab Attire
  6. Keep Emergency Contacts Information Updated
  7. End of Year Program Review
  8. Avoid Offering Respirators Just In Case
  9. Not Just a Label
  10. Review Control Areas
  11. Establish a Clear Cell Phone Policy
  12. Happy Holidays

 

We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season!

Sincerely,

Your friends at Safety Partners

Establish a Clear Cell Phone Policy

Does your facility have an established policy that clearly specifies whether cell phones are permitted into the lab while conducting work?

Many people are constantly connected to their cell phones these days.  It can be hard to leave your cell phone behind and even harder to convince others to do so.  It may be necessary when working in labs with infectious or potentially infectious materials!  For the sake of this post, put aside the distraction-factor of having a cell phone in a lab.  Just consider the hazards that a cell phone placed on the bench in your lab space may pose, or if people will remember to remove their gloves and wash their hands prior to pulling their cell phone out of their pocket.

Allowing lab workers to bring personal items such as cell phones into labs should be carefully reviewed because they have the capability of becoming fomites.  Lab equipment and other lab supplies are […]

Take Your Time to Avoid Incidents

Now that the holiday season is upon us, be sure to remind employees to take their time.  Rushing and taking short cuts can lead to incidents and accidents.  As part of the reminder, ensure everyone is aware of the need to report near misses, in an effort to prevent an incident or accident from occurring.

Incident forms can be used to report near misses, and the same basic information should be provided by the personnel involved.  Employees should be reminded that the details of the situation are requested to fully understand what created the near miss.  This information is then used to develop and implement corrective actions to prevent re-occurrence.

The description of what happened should be detailed enough that someone reading the incident report could visualize what happened.  This requires both general information, such as materials involved, equipment and engineering controls being utilized, and personal protective equipment being worn, as well as specific details such as […]

Be Thankful for Successes

We should be thankful for the successes we experience with our EHS programs, and remember to discuss them during safety committee meetings, company meetings, or general company updates!

Many times, safety committee meeting conversations focus on reviewing incidents and near-misses, suggested policy implementation, and necessary improvements to the EHS program in place.

Remember to add an agenda item focused on sharing success stories related to your EHS program!  Safety committee meeting agendas can become over-packed with to-do list items, leaving very little room to share what has been accomplished in the EHS program.

Successful regulatory inspections should be discussed, and highlights of the most successful interactions with the regulator should be shared.  A scientist proactively reaching out to safety personnel to request a risk assessment or a review of hazardous materials being proposed for use could be exemplified to encourage others to do the same.  A near miss that resulted in implementation of modified work practices which […]