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Health and safety in the laboratory and field
Health and safety in the laboratory and field

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8.2 Working with bio-hazardous material (human material, microbiological agents, plant pathogens)

Under COSHH Regulations in the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) guidelines, a risk assessment must be performed on all projects involving bio-hazardous material.

In addition to the general laboratory working practices, the following should be observed:

8.2.1 For unscreened human material

  • Work in the Containment Level 2 laboratory, which has restricted access.

  • Wear a laboratory coat and gloves.

  • Avoid sharps (e.g. needles, glass Pasteurs) where possible.

  • Work only in the clearly identified, designated safety cabinets.

  • Dispose of all solid waste in autoclave bins by autoclaving and then via the clinical waste route.

  • Dispose of liquid waste by adding Virkon (or equivalent sterilising) powder to a concentration of 1%, mix, and leave for a minimum of 10 minutes, and wash down the drain with copious amounts of water.

  • Disinfect the work area after use with 1% Virkon solution by wiping over and leaving to dry.

  • Disinfect all contaminated glassware using freshly made 1% Virkon solution before placing for wash-up.

  • Centrifuge only in sealed safety buckets.

Figure 15
Figure 14 Waste bag for clinical waste

8.2.2 Centrifuges

  • Correct usage of centrifuges and rotors must be observed.

  • Ensure that you are trained by a competent person.

  • Hazards are caused by incorrect balancing of tubes, leakage from a broken or collapsed tube within the rotor or aerosol production from the tubes themselves.

  • Sealed buckets should be used for hazardous material in a centrifuge without an airflow (check the manual).

  • Allow 2 minutes after a rotor comes to rest before opening the lid of the centrifuge, to allow any aerosol to settle.

  • Appropriate decontamination (based on the agent involved) should be carried out.