How To Avoid Hazards In A Life Science Environment

Life Science Environment

Individuals working in life sciences research centers or laboratories often get exposed to various hazards present in their work environment. As they explore and produce new drugs, they are subjected to a range of health hazards including chemical, biological, and particulate risks.

Once a drug or vaccine is created, and the lab starts mass production, the facility begins following strict protocols to eliminate the contamination probability from their manufacturing process. These often include maintaining a clean, sterile and aseptic environment and using PPEs. Even while the lab is performing everyday testing and procedures, it is imperative to follow safety guidance and care.

Human contact is also a factor that leads to particulate contamination within a controlled environment of a laboratory setting. In order to prevent particles from entering testing samples, the workers of a facility should wear the most suitable PPE, specific to the ISO classification of the cleanroom. A PPE usually contains a set of gloves, a disposable garment, facemask, caps, goggles, etc.

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Safety Measures To Reduce Hazards:

The potential hazards within a unit in the life sciences industry are specific to each facility. It depends upon the activities, testing and practices being performed within the environment, for example working with chemicals, drugs or electronic devices.

However, the general protection procedures for each are more or less the same. In this blog, we have defined some methods of protection that should be followed in each laboratory.

1.   Product Contamination:

The primary reason for lab science workers to wear PPEs is to protect lab products from contamination. The strongly regulated and strictly controlled environment of a life sciences lab can get benefitted from PPEs as these will eliminate the risk of cross-contamination significantly.

When the workers wear lab-compatible PPEs, the invasion of particulate matter through skin, dust and hair is reduced significantly. At the same time, bioburben or chemical contamination by bacteria, viruses, solvents and residues is also likely to remain under control. This will ensure the accuracy of any experiment or testing being performed in a lab facility.

2.   Chemical Protection:

Laboratory units such as compounding pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, and academic and R&D labs may expose the workers to a variety of harmful chemical compounds. These individuals work with chemicals all day long, performing tests that involve compounding solids, blending, transfer of liquids, drug preparation or maintenance and cleaning of FAB equipment. (Keeping Your People and Products Safe, n.d.)

Additionally, people working in the fields of microelectronics, bio-manufacturing and precision engineering are likely to get exposed to chemical hazards. That is why, it is best for workers of such facilities to wear PPEs and other protective equipment that provide a high level of chemical protection.

3.   Biohazards:

Biohazard is a term used for biological substances that have the potential to pose negative health effects on living organisms. This primarily includes medical waste, toxins or microbes such as fungi, viruses and bacteria.

Especially after the introduction of COVID-19, labs have started following strict protection measures to avoid viral infections. Each worker should wear masks, gloves, and disposable garments to protect themselves against airborne and liquid-borne viruses and microbes produced from medical waste or other biohazards.

4.   Static Protection:

Electrostatic discharge within a controlled environment should be contained within a specific limit. In any other case, the influx of charges can lead to a major disruption. It can damage the micro electric components or start a fire during power processing. Therefore, the protective garments of workers working in environments(where there is a risk of electrostatic discharge) should have anti-static properties.

5.   Allergic Reactions:

Sometimes the masks and gloves, when worn for a long period of time, can lead to skin infections and diseases. These things can cause adverse allergic reactions, which have been classified into three categories. These include immediate hypersensitivity, delayed hypersensitivity, and irritant contact dermatitis.

Some people are also allergic to the natural protein found in rubber latex gloves, which can lead to an immediate hypersensitivity reaction. Therefore, it is essential to check for allergies or skin conditions before asking the workers to wear any kind of gloves or masks.

Here are some protective tips that will help optimize the working environment of your lab. If you already follow these measures, there is a lower likelihood of product contamination or deteriorating health of the workforce.

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