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Bloodborne Pathogens Retraining (EHS 0738)
Session #3
Incident Response


In the previous sessions, information was provided which indicated that while exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material could have serious consequences, there were procedures and practices which if followed could reduce, perhaps even eliminate, potential exposures.

Unfortunately, history has taught us that despite all our efforts to prevent exposure, accidents and incidents do occur and workers have become exposed to and infected with these blood borne pathogen.

This session that you are about to begin is a discussion of what you should do in the unlikely event that you become exposed to human blood or to one of the other potentially infectious materials discussed in session I.

The Health Services Group is well prepared to assist you in the event that you become injured or exposed to materials that you work with.

All accidents and incidents MUST be reported to your the supervisor as soon as possible. 

Such reporting permits the monitoring of frequency of accidents and incidents and helps in developing procedures or methods of prevention.  It also helps to determine which types of accidents result in infection of the laboratory worker and whether such infections are accompanied by overt illness.

In the event of any question regarding reporting, the Health Service and EH&S are to be consulted and a determination made regarding the incident and initiation of further investigation. In determining the need for reporting, the nature of the material (agent) involved, the amount of the spills, and the likelihood of exposure that might result in infection are important criteria. 

The procedures, activities, personnel attitudes, and equipment that create conditions favorable for occupational laboratory infections are similar to those that lead to the occurrence of industrialtype accidents.  The extra ingredient is the presence of agents capable of causing human infections.  Laboratory events that might create hazards, exposures, or accidents requiring reporting could be classified in two categories:

  • Events occurring during work with human source material  or in an area that could result in physical injury, cuts, burns, abrasions, or fractures.
  • Other events occurring during the handling of human source material other potentially infectious specimens, or transgenic animals that could allow release of the agent to the environment or its undesired transfer to employees, animals or cultures.

In the first category the injury site could be contaminated with the biohazardous material in use. 

In the second category, illness or unwanted crosscontamination could occur without physical injury.  Mechanisms of infection typical of the second category are ingestion of contaminated fluids, exposure to aerosols, and penetration of agents through the unbroken skin. 

Therefore, for the purpose of controlling biohazards, all accidents, known exposures, and potential hazards should be identified and reported.

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