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Laboratory Worker Safety

The shelf-life of safety is only as good as the network by which it travels and exists on. Besides spoken word in training, how does a leader invigorate their stakeholders with the real logical equipment to prepare them for the unpredictable? Someone invested in the laboratory or biologically dense workplace will be familiar with this term: biosecurity. In this article we are going to walk through the various components and the reasons they are so important.


Pathogen Safety Data Sheets (PSDSs) are documents that include and describe the chemical or compound availables on hand in the designated setting of work. A Pathogen sheet will inform every detail of an infectious agent. The name, type, and the taxonomy, including family, genus, species, and subspecies, as well as synonyms or cross-reference data. This helps us answer, for example, what diseases does this agent cause? What is it similar to? A cross-reference would include this information, along with any other aliases, or commonalities the pathogen is known as.


In other words, the pathogen security information sheet is an exhaustive information base for the upkeep of a safe, professional workspace. Here are some other parameters the PSDS aims to cover:


Transferability / Communicability: Is the pathogen transferable between one host and another? To what degree?

Zoonosis: How does the pathogen reside and transfer between different species? How are the symptoms experienced?

Drug susceptibility: What drugs are effective against this infection or disease?


This is a non-exhaustive, example list of some of the background information a PSDS might come equipped with. Following this section is usually the bread and butter of workplace safety, hazard reviews, and personal protection.


While it is true employees and normal users are trained to know biology and biosecurity as their special expertise, not every visitor to the lab will be one of these people. The lab’s information network must consider communicating with the layperson. Information should be clear, distributable, and accessible to anyone that might enter.