Important Lab Safety Updates

The Johns Hopkins Medical Laboratories undergo reviews for safety workplace practices twice a year. These reviews are conducted to monitor or identify possible hazards that may affect staff within laboratories. During the past year, the two most commonly observed practices that required improvements were:

Emergency Eyewash Station Checks

  • All Eyewash Stations require weekly activation along with documentation. OSHA points out the importance of checking the eyewash weekly by running water through the system to the eliminate presence of amoeba in the water lines.

Excerpt from OSHA document:

“Region VI has brought to our attention a Department of Energy (DOE) bulletin indicating that Acanthamoebae, small amoebae capable of causing serious eye infections, have been found in numerous portable and stationary eyewash stations at several DOE facilities.

The infections caused by Acanthamoebae are difficult to recognize and treat and may result in loss of the infected eye. Acanthamoebae are able to survive conventional water plant treatment regimens, and clinical treatments with most antibiotics are ineffective against this amoeba.”

-The HSE 037 Policy addresses training and requirements for Emergency Equipment such as eyewash stations.

Expired Reagents Checks

  • It is well-known that Laboratories have a great number of reagents to keep track of. However, the presence of expired reagents continues to be the number two practice identified as noncompliant during routine audits. The use of expired reagents has been known to create potential sources of errors in testing.
  • New this year, the CAP has added the requirement the presence of instructions on handling Hazardous Material in an Emergency (GEN.72800). As a part of the environmental monitoring, the safety staff will be looking for signs with instructions posted in areas that have hazardous chemicals.
  • The signs include instructions to staff on what to do if a spill or splash occurs with a hazardous chemical. The signs are for the emergency treatment of chemical splashes and injuries. Along with signs, there should be spill kits and/or mitts for the control of chemical spills wherever major chemical hazards exist.
  • The spill kits must be dated with an expiration date. If no expiration date is assigned, the spill kit must indicate the date it was put into service, and the Director must periodically assess its usability.

Natalie Wallace, MT(ASCP)
QA Specialist
Pathology Department, CQI Office