Safety precautions are essential and should be followed at all steps starting from specimen collection to storage, transporting and disposal of biohazard wastes so as to minimize occupational risks. The risk of transmission of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and other Transfusion Transmissible Infections (TTIs) can be minimized if laboratory workers use the safety precautions/procedures at all times.
Always open body fluid sample containers with care, preferably under a safety cabinet or while wearing a face mask.
Used disposable syringes and needles, scalpel blades and other sharp items must be kept in puncture-resistant containers for disposal.
Protective barriers (for example rubber gloves) must be used to prevent exposure to blood, body fluids containing visible blood, and other fluids to which universal precautions (described in chapter two) must be applied.
Hands and other skin surfaces that are contaminated with blood, body fluids containing visible blood or other fluids must be washed thoroughly immediately.
All specimens should be treated as infectious.
When in laboratory, wear and fasten laboratory coats and closed shoes.
Cover cuts and abrasions with water proof adhesive elastoplasts and avoid handling infectious samples.
Wipe up any spills with paper towels soaked with appropriate disinfectant (e.g. 0.5% sodium hypochlorite) immediately. All laboratories handling infectious materials should always have a biohazard spill kit containing paper towels, gloves, tweezers, disinfectant and heavy duty biohazard disposal bags).
All contaminated waste should be decontaminated before disposal, this includes body fluids. Methods of decontamination include autoclaving, chemical (e.g. sodium hypochlorite 0.5%). Broken glassware and containers of contaminated utensils and needles must be directly incinerated. (see Appendix)
Materials that are to be decontaminated or disposed of outside the laboratory should be placed in a strong, leak proof container prior to transporting them outside the laboratory.
In case of needle stick injury, squeeze the wound immediately; wash with plenty of water and soap and report to the supervisor immediately for possible post exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Care must be taken to prevent injuries when;
Using needles, scalpels and other sharp instruments or devices
Handling sharp instrument after procedure
Cleaning used instruments
Disposing used needles
Supervisors should have and maintain a log book to record laboratory accidents
(N.B: For more details please refer to Chapter 4)