Write a report on health and safety in both college laboratory and hospital microbiology laboratory.
Potential risks and hazards
Health and safety in both college laboratory and hospital microbiology laboratory is becoming increasingly important subject. Establishment of the dedicated health and safety department and training to employees and students are the important prerequisite for the provision of safe environment in the respective laboratories. Accreditation of the laboratories from the respective agencies proved to be beneficial in establishing and maintaining standardised laboratories. Laboratories are the places for research, teaching and learning activities are usually carried out and health and safety issues can arise due to inappropriate circumstances and behaviours (Leigh, 2016).
Hazards in the college laboratory broadly categorised in chemical, biological, physical and electrical hazards. Chemical use in the laboratories in unavoidable and use of chemicals are prone to harm or injury, if these are misused or mishandled. Chemicals which can be hazardous include azos, peroxides, and peroxidizables, explosives, explosive boiling, pyrophorics, incompatible chemical like hydrogen cyanide with bases, water reactives like lithium, sodium, and potassium. All the students and staff members are required to be trained for proper use of chemicals. Chemical hygiene plan including standard operating procedure need to be implemented to control chemical hazards. Physical hazards include electrical safety hazards, routine housekeeping aspects, using sharps and ergonomic hazards related to humanly material and equipment use (Kuespert, 2016). Physical hazards can be effectively controlled by giving training to students for safe handling of the equipments and proper storage of the material. Microbes and viral vectors are the potential biological hazards in the laboratory. Cut due to glasswares and spillage of blood on the floor and working platform lead to microbial growth are also potential biological hazards. Electrical power outlets in the wet locations and improper use of flexible extension cords are potential electrical hazards. Use of plastic protective tubes and proper check of electrical connections on the regular basis are useful in protection from the electrical hazards (Hill & Finster, 2016).
Chemical hazards in the microbiology laboratory comprises of toxins and corrosives like disinfectants. Chemical hazards comprise of both organic and inorganic chemical. Proper ventilation and chemical segregation are the effective ways to prevent chemical hazards. Protective clothing and good housekeeping proved helpful in preventing chemical hazards. Fire, shock, malfunctioning electric equipment and unsafe use of extension cords are the potential electrical hazards. Round-fault circuit interrupters need to be used and flexible extension cords need to be used. Electrical pendants are useful in keeping cords out of the way. Microbes like bacteria and viruses, blood, tissue, body fluids and genetically modified agents are the potential biological hazards (Coelho & García, 2015).
Proper storage and protection are useful in protecting biological hazards. Use of proper clothing and storing biological agents in the right areas are helpful lessening risk associated with biological hazards. Suitable housekeeping and disinfection of work surfaces are useful in minimizing biological risks. Physical hazards include noise, moving machinery accidents, heating device and slipping are the potential physical hazards. Training to employees and good housekeeping are useful in preventing physical hazards. Sitting in the stubborn position for longer duration like sitting in biosafety cabinet and checking slides on microscope is one of the potential hazards in the microbiology laboratory. Lack of biological safety cabinets (BSC’s) is one of the major risk factors associated with the microbiology laboratory. Inadequate biological waste management is one of the significant risk factors for the microbiology laboratory (Wurtz et al., 2016; Salerno & Gaudioso, 2015).
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) law is useful in controlling substances which are hazardous in the laboratory. This law needs to be implanted when there is use of hazardous substances. This law is applicable in the work platform and lab in charge is responsible for the implementation of the law. Lab incharge need to prepare standard operating procedure (SOP) for the use of hazardous chemical and accountability for the use of hazardous chemical need to be maintained. Lab incharge need to prepare safety report and it need to be audited through head of the department. Implementation of the safety practices for use of hazardous substances need to be audited every month (Lee et al., 2011).
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) law is useful protecting from harm and hazardous by using PPEs like safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. PPEs are useful in protecting lungs, head and feet, eyes, skin and body. PPEs are useful in both college lab and in the hospital microbiology lab. In both the labs, gloves and eye protection are useful. In college lab, safety footwear is useful. Gloves need to be used while handling corrosive chemicals, body fluids and infective organisms. Head of the health and safety unit in both college and hospital should implement this law (Scungio & Gile, 2014). Head of the respective departments need to monitor all the procedures and processes for the implementation of PPE law. Lab in charges should be responsible for ensuring availability of necessary PPEs and optimum use of these PPEs. With the help of lab incharge, head of the department need to prepare PPEs utilization report and submit to head of health and safety unit in both college and hospital. Head of health and safety unit need to carry out audit for the proper storage and utilization of PPEs. This audit needs to be carried out every three months (Dickson, 2012).
Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) deals with precautions need to be taken to control and prevent major accidents. Policies and procedures need to be prepared and implemented to control and prevent major accidents. This law is applicable to the college laboratory in which there is frequent use of explosive and flammable chemicals. This law is applicable while using these explosive and flammable chemicals. Head of the health and safety unit need to implement this law by giving training for utilization of explosive and flammable chemicals. Head of the department need to monitor and lab incharge need to use safely these chemicals. Head of the department need to prepare report and submit to head of health and safety unit. Head of health and safety unit need to carry out audit for use of explosive and flammable chemicals. Its audit includes ensuring proper storage, using necessary PPEs during its utilization and ensuring suitable environment for its utilization (Vince, 2011).
The CLP Regulation deals with the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures. CLP regulation need to be implemented by head of the department and lab incharge need to carry out all the activities of classification and labelling. There should be established policy and procedure for proper classification and labelling of all the chemicals, reagents and biological agents. These articles need to be classified according to its storage conditions, potential risks and alphabetical order. It is useful in safe withdrawal of all these articles to ensure protection from harm. This law is applicable to both college lab and hospital microbiology lab. It is applicable during all the practicals. Lab incharge should take responsibility of systematic withdrawal of chemicals during practicals according to its classification and labels (Falck, 2012). Head of the department should take responsibility of providing information related to storage conditions and potential risks of all the chemicals and reagents to the lab incharge. Lab incharge need to prepare report and should submit to the head of the department. Report should contain deviations observed per month in classification and labelling of chemicals and reagents. Head of the department should audit CLP, every month. Audit should include observation and monitoring of classification and labelling of all the chemicals and reagents (Hughes & Ferrett, 2015).
Use of inflammable, toxic and corrosive chemicals like azos, peroxides, pyrophorics and peroxidizables are more in the college laboratory in comparison to the hospital microbiology laboratory. In microbiology laboratory also, chemical hazards like corrosives and toxins exists; however, its impact is less in comparison to the college laboratory. Hence, law like COSHH and COMAH is more applicable in the college laboratory in comparison to the hospital microbiology laboratory. Use of sharps and ergonomic hazards are more in the college laboratory; hence, PPEs like gloves, safety footwear and clothing are more useful in the college laboratory. PPEs are also useful in the microbiology laboratory; however, only gloves are enough in this laboratory. Gloves are useful in microbiology laboratory because experimenter need to handle infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. Moreover, they need to handle blood and other body fluids. Cut due to glasswares is more common in the college laboratory and contamination due to spillage of blood and body fluids is more common in the microbiology laboratory. Use of PPEs like gloves are effective in controlling and preventing these hazards (Fuscaldo, 2012; Yarahmadi et al., 2016).
Hazards due to electrical power are common in both the laboratories due to improper use of plastic protective tubes, electrical power outlets in the wet locations and improper use of flexible extension cords. Hence, COMAH is equally effective in both the laboratories. According to this law, there should be established policies and procedures for proper maintenance of electrical connections. The CLP Regulation is equally applicable in both the laboratories. In the college laboratory, all the chemicals need to be classified according its potential risk factors. Henceforward, there would be improper mixing of different chemicals which might lead to explosion. In the microbiology laboratory, all the biological reagents and body fluids need to be stored with respect to their storage conditions. Improper storage of biological reagents and body fluids are prone to produce microbial growth and infection to the people working in the microbiology laboratory (Pal, 2013; Collins & Beale, 2015).
Maintaining health and safety is beneficial to both employee and employer. Employees get safe workplace and assurance of good health. It leads to improvement in the competency of the employees. It helps in improving their assurance on the management of the college. It also helps in improving their interest and commitment in their job profile; hence, there would be improvement in the productivity of the employees. Employer get benefited through enhancement of their brand value and image. It is also helpful in demonstrating social responsibility of the employer. It is helpful in fulfilling moral and legal duties for the employer. It reduces burden of cost expenditure on employees (Leigh, 2016).
Employer reduces cost of expenditure on the employees by reducing medical expenses on the employees, insurance cost, return-to-work payouts and cost for job accommodation. Along with benefits to the employees, it is also beneficial for the students. Student’s health gets protected from the hazardous and risk in the college. Moreover, students get opportunity to work in the environment where policies, regulations and procedures are already established. It would be beneficial for the students to get exposure to work according to rules and regulations of the health and safety department of the college. It would be helpful for them in their future occupations (McKinnon, 2016).
In the initial phase of the implementation of the health and safety rules and regulations, there would be constrain for performing normal laboratory activities. However, with practice it would become routine for both students and employees. Similar to the college laboratory, implementation of health and safety rules and regulations in microbiology would be beneficial for both employees and employer. Moreover, patients in the hospital get indirectly benefited due to safety measures taken in the microbiology laboratory of the hospital. Standardised procedures followed for the storage of the biological reagents, would result in the consistent and accurate outcome in the patient’s diagnostic data. There is possibility of more people getting benefited due to safe measures taken in the microbiology laboratory. In college laboratory, harm might be mostly in the form of injury. Hence, only one person gets affected. However, in case of microbiology laboratory infection might spread to many people (McKinnon, 2016).
Accurate assessment of the potential hazards and prevention of hazards according to laws are helpful in effective implementation health and safety procedures in the college and hospital microbiology laboratory. Accreditation need to be made mandatory for improving safe and healthy environment in both college and medical hospital laboratory.
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