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Dangerous incident ’employee potentially exposed to Covid’ in UK laboratory | science

According to an official report obtained by The Guardian, dangerous events in UK laboratories, hospitals and COVID-19 testing centers have potentially exposed staff to coronavirus and other risks during the pandemic.

Many have been linked to leaks and spills of liquids containing the virus, but flooding of animal facilities housing coronavirus-infected monkeys, mixing that accidentally led scientists to study the live virus, and researchers infecting ferrets infected with the virus. Bite incidents were also investigated. .

that much health And the Safety Executive has recorded at least 47 coronavirus-related “dangerous incidents” at UK research facilities, hospitals and Lighthouse laboratories during the pandemic. According to the Freedom of Information Act, 37 reports were made public to the Guardian. The rest have been put on hold due to ongoing investigations.

The report reflects the tremendous pressure placed on scientists, health care workers and Lighthouse lab staff as COVID-19 swept through the UK. Researchers’ time has skyrocketed as they race to understand a deadly new virus. Meanwhile, NHS staff and specialists quickly deployed to the testing center are reaching their limits.

Common incidents have been leaks, spills, and splashes of virus-laden liquids. Some were in human hands and others in robotic arms, which required rapid evacuation and cleaning by the biohazard team. A recurring problem at the Lighthouse lab was that the swabs from the home test kits didn’t click properly, forcing people into the sample tubes before tightening the caps. This created what HSE calls a “spring coil”. This coil turns the swab into a “projectile” when the vial’s lid is opened for testing.

In many cases, scientists studied the live virus without proper safety measures because they believed the virus was dead, while in other cases, a Covid-positive test sample was shipped without proper precautions. According to HSE reports, two health care workers at a hospital in Chichester contracted Covid-19 after not wearing PPE, but there is no evidence that lab personnel contracted the virus as a result of a work-related mistake. In most cases, staff wore appropriate PPE.

The National Institute of Biological Standards and Control, run by the UK pharmaceutical regulator, has been under investigation after flooding at an animal facility that houses coronavirus-infected marmosets. The same lab was later found to have violated several safety regulations when researchers found water droplets on lab benches and floors after heating up a Covid virus stock. Although exposure risk was considered “very low”, HSE found that laboratories lacked the planning, control and monitoring of Covid operations, did not provide sufficient information and training to safely handle the virus, and did not maintain adequate safety . training.

The UK Department of Public Health’s Porton Down laboratory, which has also done important work in the COVID-19 pandemic, has been ordered to improve safety after its researchers have been bitten by an infected ferret. An investigation into the May 2020 incident revealed that the animal was bleeding from the scientist’s protective suit, so administrators sent the researcher home to treat the wounds and self-quarantine.

HSE provided Wiltshire Labs with a “Crown Improvement Notice” and asked managers to increase safety at several facilities. However, the case was not closed for a year as the employees ‘excessively increased’ by ‘doubled the workload’.

Allen Roberts, Deputy Director of the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) in Porton Down said: “We take the safety of our laboratory scientists very seriously. The actions HSE has taken with us have helped us further strengthen our robust systems and processes so that we can continue to work safely and safely.”

An HSE spokesperson said the sector’s “very high level of control” was reflected in its good health and safety record. “It is extremely rare that misrepresentation or near-miss accidents occur. There are strict requirements for incident reporting and we also look forward to sharing information across sectors,” they said.

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Vincent Theobald-Vega, former HSE inspector and Head of Safety 4 HEd Consulting, said biocontainment laboratories, equipment used in laboratories, and numerous safety protocols are designed to protect against the worst effects of accidents. However, risks still exist, especially for those working in laboratories, from sample handling. “The lab is a much more hazardous environment than the process lab, where simple tests are typically performed in a process line environment,” he said.

“When those controls are broken, it’s important for people to understand what’s wrong. That way people can modify the process and prevent the same thing from happening next time. This is the primary purpose of our investigations in the health and safety community,” he added. “If organizations don’t report, we will all know a lot less about how systems fail, and our labs will be much less secure as a result.”

A spokesperson for MHRA said that employee safety is our top priority and that all near-misses and accidents have been thoroughly investigated through our internal accident investigation procedures to determine the cause.

“Following the two incidents related to emergency procedures referred to by HSE, all emergency scenarios have been reviewed and training has been updated to ensure that staff are able to respond appropriately in emergency situations. These incidents were dealt with quickly and there was no risk of serious harm to employees,” the spokesperson said. “The violation was completely addressed by changing the laboratory and use procedures.”

Dangerous incident ’employee potentially exposed to Covid’ in UK laboratory | science

Source link Dangerous incident ’employee potentially exposed to Covid’ in UK laboratory | science

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