Biohazard Preparedness in the Lab for National Safety Month 2013

National Safety Month



Did you know that the CDC website offers emergency preparedness advice in case of zombie attack? Their advice: have a kit, have a plan, be prepared. What started as a tongue in check promotion to get emergency preparation to a wider audience, turned into a successful, ongoing campaign. As the director of the CDC, Dr. Ali Khan, remarks, “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”

In today’s installment of emergency preparedness for National Safety Month, let’s look at how to be ready for a biohazard emergency, such as the spread of real contagious disease, not the zombie kind. Some germs are transferred to people from animals, like the parasite causing malaria. Other germs, like botulism, are carried to humans in contaminated food and water. Others yet are passed from person to person, which is what we call “contagious.”

Zombie preparedness actually looks a lot like biohazard emergency preparedness. We need to prevent the spread of the disease, prepare an emergency kit ahead of time and have a plan for ourselves and family. Mythical creatures are limited to the realm of theme parks, movies and books, but unfortunately a biohazard emergency is a real danger we face.


Prevention of Contagious Diseases

Workplaces are where people come together, breathing the same air and touching the same work equipment. Along with the other places where large groups of people come together, the workplace is one where disease may spread. The great news is that we have an arsenal of tools on our side. Our greatest weapons? Washing our hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs and vaccination to protect ourselves and community.



Workplace management also has the potential to prevent lost work time by promoting seasonal flu vaccines at work, according to the CDC. Medical advances have come so far in controlling the spread of many of these diseases. With vaccination and other public health efforts, we have success stories like saying goodbye to small pox and polio. However, the potential for a worldwide contagious disease, such as avian flu, raises concerns and increases the need for public information.


What’s the Plan at Work?

While we each have responsibility for keeping a go bag at work for our personal needs, OSHA requires a certain degree of workplace emergency preparedness. In the workplace, we can expect to see exit routes, emergency action plans and fire prevention plans. In industry and other sites where chemicals are used, we can expect emergency preparedness for on-site hazardous waste operations. There are also regulations covering blood borne pathogens. The buck doesn’t stop here though. OSHA’s requirements don’t encompass all of the new laws for personal protection equipment, and of course the NFPA includes more regulations in the fire code. All together, there are many workplace emergency preparedness requirements to look for.

This week, ChemSW is at Safety 2013 in Las Vegas, showcasing their inventory management software, CISPro™. When we’re looking at hazardous materials reporting and storage, CISPro™ can keep your facility in top shape for emergency preparedness and excellent safety compliance, so please visit our website for more info.

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