The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed labs to the limit, even if they are not testing for the new coronavirus. COVID-19 is highly contagious. For some, the symptoms are mild or absent, for others, they are fatal.
Laboratory safety is always a priority, but regulations can sometimes get in the way. For example, equipment may not be cleaned as often as required by the procedure; and also, employees may not always adhere strictly to safe working practices, voiding security.
COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way biopharma use to do business globally.Collaboration and partnership between different areas of pharma and biotechnology continues to grow. The results can considerably alter the future scenario of patient healthcare and drug discovery.
It’s crucial to protect your laboratory, your colleagues and yourself. In this article, we will share some useful tips on how to do it.
Practical Steps to Reduce the Risk:
Even if your lab team operates basic equipment and only performs critical tasks, such as maintaining the price of precious crops, during a pandemic, you must strictly adhere to standard laboratory safety procedures. Both personal precautions and laboratory-specific measures are equally important.
Whether visiting the lab or not, people must carefully and objectively follow the precautions prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Wash your hands often, especially after touching the surfaces that are frequently touched by others. Use soap and water and rinse for at least 20 seconds. In case of unavailability ofsoap and water, it is recommended to use a hand sanitizer thatcontains a minimum of 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face if your hands are not properly washed.
- Stay home if you feel unwell and encourage others to do the same. If you have been exposed to the virus and develop general symptoms (dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath), seek immediate medical attention.
- Stay home to minimize exposure. Avoid getting in touch with sick people.
Special Precautions for the Laboratory
To ensure that the laboratory is safe for everyone, personnel must take additional precautions to minimize the risk of human-to-human transmission and surface contamination.
- Follow the OSHA guidelines to prepare your workplace for the coronavirus.
- Limit close contact. Keep an eye on where others are in the lab and keep your distance as much as possible. Limit movement in the laboratory during important travel.
- Establish remote working policies and change them if possible to minimize the number of people in the lab at the same time.
- Promote hand hygiene. Provide hand washing stations throughout the laboratory and ensure that hand sanitizer is available and always available.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as equipment and cabinet knobs, with products that meet EPA criteria for use against SARSCoV2. Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when cleaning. Then clean the reusable PPE.
- If someone working in the lab becomes infected with COVID19, follow the protocols set out by the CDC. Cover and disinfect patient areas with EPA recommended disinfectant. Contact a professional decontamination service if necessary.
Failure to act can have serious consequences for you or those around you. As a laboratory technician, you are at the forefront of the fight to slow the spread of COVID19.
Contract research organizations are fully committed to serving their customers in the life sciences, especially at a time when the work of multiple researchers is critical to tackling the COVID19 pandemic.