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Bloodborne Pathogens Retraining (EHS 0738)

Accidental Exposure to BBP's

Reporting Actions

Personnel who, in the course of their work are accidentally exposed to BBP's, should immediately initiate emergency decontamination, shower (if necessary), and then report without delay to their immediate supervisor.  In the event that an injury accompanies an exposure or a substance enters the eye, mouth, lungs, or penetrates or comes in contact with the skin, the supervisor should direct disinfecting procedures and see that the employee reports without delay to the appropriate medical authority.  In case of doubt regarding the seriousness of exposure the physician should determine if the risk is significant enough to require medical attention.  If not significant, the employee should still report the exposure to their supervisor, in writing if so requested. 

Individual Responsibility

For the protection of each individual and their coworkers reporting responsibility begins with any individual involved in an accident, exposure, or suspected hazardous situation.  The action taken may vary with the laboratory unit, but in general the individual should report as soon as practical to the supervisor in order to begin the reporting process.

Principal Investigator/Supervisor Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the laboratory supervisor to develop an emergency plan which covers contingencies which may arise in the event of an accidental exposure.  If the experiment involves an unusually virulent or uncommon pathogen then the Principal Investigator should consult with EH&S. It may be advisable to have copies of the exposure treatment protocol on hand in order to bring to the health Service.  The supervisor shall insure that all laboratory personnel are aware of this physician and the procedure for contacting the physician.  This information shall also be on file with EH&S.

Medical Authority

In the event of an exposure to human source, the supervisor or employee is to immediately contact the Health Services Occupational Health Physician.  The physician will determine if the exposure is of sufficient risk to require medical treatment.  If medical attention is required, the arrangements for treatment will include an assessment of risk to fellow workers assisting the patient and the precautions required to prevent the exposure of other persons encountered on the route to the Health Services.

Requirements for Reporting

As outlined above, all accidents, exposures, and potential hazards should be reported.  Under normal circumstances such reports are made on the supervisor accident analysis report (SAAR) form.  In severe emergencies, telephone communications must be used to secure immediate medical care, decontaminating procedures, or facility repair.

Investigation of Laboratory Accidents

The biosafety officer in cooperation with the principal investigator and his/her staff, will investigate any laboratory accident with a goal toward future prevention of similar accidents. The investigation is to include an assessment of the circumstances and number of employees who were exposed to the agent in question.  In addition, the biosafety officer, in consultation with Health Services, may institute further steps to monitor the health of those who may have been exposed to the agent in question.

It should be emphasized that reporting of accidents to the principal investigator or laboratory supervisor is the responsibility of the employee who has the accident.  The principal investigator or the laboratory supervisor should then report it to the Health Services.

If accidents are not reported it will be difficult to control and contain the organisms involved as well as devise necessary measures to prevent such accidents from happening in the future.

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