The scene: You’re in the tissue culture room of a lab, conducting research. You’re following all the proper safety procedures and wearing lab gloves, safety glasses and a lab coat.
You’re working with a material that you definitely don’t want to be exposed to: human feces. To conduct your research involving human fecal occult blood, you slice into a sample of feces with a scalpel when you notice something has gone wrong: your hand is bleeding.
Uh oh! The material you’re working with could contain bloodborne pathogens including the Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B viruses or HIV.
What is the best way first step to cleaning your wound and minimizing the risk of infection or contamination from a dangerous substance in the lab?
Quickly clean the wound with soap and water, and then cover it with a bandage.
Squeeze blood from the wound while washing it with soap and water.
Use the Safety Shower to wash the wound and contact your supervisor.
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B) Squeeze blood from the wound while washing it with soap and water.
This exact scenario unfolded in the lab of a seasoned scientist working for a medical device company and it was detailed in a report published by Safety Partners last year called “Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research.”
In the real-life scenario, the doctor working on the research followed protocol correctly and squeezed blood from the wound to minimize the risk of infection. But unfortunately, he faced months of nerve-wracking testing for potential pathogens until he could be told definitevly that he hadn’t contracted any viruses from the scalpel mis-slice.
Have you had a safety scare in the lab or at a chemical facility? Get in touch with your own Worst Case Scenario story and it could be published here! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.