McGill Laboratory Biosafety Manual - Second edition, 1997
5 Emergency Spill Response - Safe Handling of Biological Spills
All individuals who work in a lab where pathogens are used must know how
to handle these agents safely and what to do in case of a spill. An emergency
spill response protocol specific for the microorganisms in use should be
prepared and posted in a visible location within the laboratory.
An accident prevention plan should be the first priority. General safety
Limit access to rooms where microbiological agents are used.
Wear appropriate protective clothing.
Use the appropriate biological safety cabinet.
Use plastics rather than breakable glassware to reduce likelihood of puncture
wounds, cuts and generation of aerosols in the event of an accident.
Transport materials on carts which have lipped shelves, using secondary
containers (i.e. tubs) to catch possible spills.
5.2 The Spill Response Plan
Response procedures should be established before a spill occurs. Assessment
of the hazards presented by the pathogen(s) in use should be based upon:
The necessary clean-up materials should be available on site. In preparing
a spill response kit, ascertain that it contains the appropriate clean-up
materials, protective clothing and equipment. The kit should be stored
in a visible and accessible location immediately outside the facility and
Virulence and infectivity of the agent,
viability - e.g., does the organism become inactive when dried?,
route of entry - e.g., can the organism enter the body via aerosols or
splash to the eye?,
quantity and location of possible spill,
immune status of the individuals at risk.
disposable protective clothing (e.g., long-sleeved coat or gown, mask,
autoclavable container and bags,
disinfectant appropriate for the pathogen(s) handled. Remember to replace
the disinfectant as it expires.
autoclavable squeegee or forceps and dustpan.
5.3 Emergency Spill Response Procedures
5.3.1 Immediate Response Procedures
22.214.171.124 For small spills
on a workbench or in a biological safety cabinet, cover the spill with
a towel which has been soaked in the appropriate disinfectant. Use of a
spray bottle for distributing the disinfectant will generate aerosols and
is to be avoided.
126.96.36.199 For large spills (500 mls or more)
Evacuate the area immediately to prevent exposure to aerosols. Close the
facility door and allow aerosols to settle for 30 minutes.
Remove and autoclave contaminated clothing.
Disinfect exposed skin; shower if possible.
Treat injuries (this takes precedence over containment of hazard).
Call local 3000 (downtown campus) or 7777 (Macdonald campus) to report
5.4 Cleanup Procedures
Before re-entering the area for cleanup, put on the protective clothing
from the spill response kit and proceed as follows:
Pour disinfectant around the perimeter of the spill rather than directly
onto it to minimize creation of aerosols: covering the spill with paper
towels will minimize splashing. Work the disinfectant toward the centre
of the spill and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
If the spill has leaked through the grilles of a biological safety cabinet,
leave the cabinet running and pour in enough disinfectant (avoid alcohol
due to explosion hazard) to dilute the spill tenfold. Drain the catch tray
after the time interval appropriate for the disinfectant.
Wipe down any adjacent walls, cabinets, furniture and equipment that may
have been splashed.
Use forceps/squeegee and dustpan to pick up and transfer the contaminated
material into an autoclavable bag or container.
Autoclave the waste and clean-up utensils.
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