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Terry Jo Gile, MT(ASCP)MA Ed. is the Safety Lady®. With over 40 years experience as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, the last 25 spent specializing in laboratory safety, she literally wrote the book on clinical laborratory safety (Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety - Third Edition, published by HCPro). Terry Jo understands from her own vast experience just what is needed to help you create a safety savvy laboratory. more
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Many of you have asked about the GHS training - when it should be done and who needs to be trained. All training must be completed and documented by December 1, 2013. In addition to the laboratory staff, maintenance, environmental services and the receiving departments should be top priorities for training since they handle chemicals routinely.
To help with the training OSHA has a Quick Card that you can download and use as a poster or handouts to help employees remember the pictograms and hazards.
OSHA also has one that covers the information about the new SDS format.
2014 Academy for Lab Safety Excellence – Coming Soon
I Touched It!
By Dan Scungio, MT(ASCP), SLS
Marvin was working in the serology laboratory when he received an urgent call from his sister on his cell phone. Though he was handling specimens with gloves on, he answered the phone without removing them.
Celia was bored with the music on her MP3 player, so she thought she would switch music stations. She pulled her hands out of the microbiology biosafety cabinet where she was setting up cultures, and she reached into her pocket and change the music using the touch screen.
According to studies, the most common laboratory-acquired infections come from several types of bacteria, viruses and fungi. The most common bacterial infections are caused by Neisseria meningitidis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Brucella species, and Salmonella and Shigella species. Viral infections are most often caused by HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Dimorphic fungi such as Histoplasma or Sporothrix are responsible for most fungal infections.
So what happens to Marvin and Celia? Can they get a lab-acquired infection from the use of their personal electronic devices? Yes, they can, and the illnesses they may contract can be contagious and deadly.
In 2012, the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) published the latest version of their document Safety in the Clinical Laboratory (GP-17 A3). In the pages of this document you will find written guidelines recommending against the use of personal electronic devices in the laboratory.
The section regarding these devices covers items such as cellular phones, MP3 players, and electronic notepad devices. It is fairly easy to see the employee safety reasons for keeping these devices from use in the lab, but there are other reasons as well. Patient safety is another reason. The use of MP3 players often includes the use of ear buds. The use of ear buds may keep a lab employee from hearing the laboratory phones, and pertinent audible alarms, or even important communication from coworkers. For employees who come into contact with any patients or other customers, the use of wear buds also appears to be unprofessional.
I am not opposed to having music played in the laboratory, though when I was a manager, I had specific rules about it. The volume had to be kept low so it did not bother anyone who is working, and it should not be heard by those who called the lab. If the background music was a disturbance to anyone working, or if staff could not agree on a radio station, then the music had to be turned off. The other rule was that the music source had to be an item that remained in the laboratory, such as a radio or a permanently-placed MP3 player.
One new trend that is being seen in the hospital setting is the use of notebooks or pads for the use of conducting audits. The use of these devices can speed up both the audit process and the reporting of audit results. However these devices should not be brought into and out of laboratories without being protected. One suggestion is the use of plastic bags to wrap the devices while in use in the laboratory.
Times are changing, and the staff that is being hired into the laboratory field today tends to be more technologically proficient than those of us with a few years of experience under our belts. While we need to understand the needs and ways of those who are up and coming, we also need to enforce basic safety guidelines. By doing that, we can keep lab staff of all ages safe so that no one ends up like Marvin or Celia. With proper infection prevention guidelines, we can all ensure a good long career, and a happy and healthy retirement!
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