It is a common idea that employees’ health and safety in the workplace depend on leaders and managers (1). However, all workers should be aware of occupational safety and health (OSH) regulations to protect themselves. This issue is particularly important in laboratory work, where there are many hazards and dangerous elements (2, 3). It is not enough only to instruct the employees about safety measures. It is also necessary to make sure that each staff member knows his or her duties in case of an emergency and realizes that a report should be submitted every time the safety is at risk. Moreover, workplace and safety regulations should not pertain only to the employees. The rules of safe conduct should be known by patients and their visitors, and each person being in the hospital should be responsible for maintaining the security and safety measures.
Types of Hazards
According to the organizational policies, the following physical, chemical, and biological hazards are identified: chemicals, blood-borne pathogens, fire and evacuation, electrical hazards, ultraviolet light, compressed gases cylinders, radiation, liquid nitrogen, noise, latex allergies. Ergonomic hazards are concerned with the harm done to the employees’ musculoskeletal system. Examples of such hazards are poor posture, bad lighting, and repetitive or awkward movements.
Organizational Policies and Regulatory Bodies in Al Rahba Laboratories
Al Rahba hospital has several documents outlining the guidelines for workplace health and safety. According to the organizational policy, every staff member is responsible for safety within the laboratories. The safety plan presupposes addressing the mentioned biological, chemical, physical, and ergonomic hazards whenever any of them takes place.
To have quick access to risk incidents and the ways of managing them, a risk register was established at Al Rahba laboratories. This register keeps records of the details of all the risks identified for an entity as well as their grading in terms of likelihood of occurring and seriousness of the impact on the employees and visitors. Further, the risk register incorporates the primary plans for managing each level of risk. Finally, there is a part discussing the consecutive outcomes of the situation caused by the incident.
The Management of Occupational Health and Safety at the Placement Laboratories
Laboratory environment health and safety procedures at Al Rahba are developed by the senior technologist and reviewed by the medical lab physician. After passing the process of approval by the lab COS and hospital’s CMO and CEO, the procedures are distributed to all hospital laboratories so that the workers could get acquainted with them.
Every laboratory staff member should be familiar with and adhere to laboratory safety policies and procedures. According to local and national legislation and regulatory bodies, laboratory procedures involve general guidelines and health and safety precautions.
General guidelines include the following requirements:
- only laboratory staff is allowed to access it through the entrance;
- eating, drinking, smoking, or applying cosmetics in the laboratory is not allowed;
- employees must not store food in the lab; they can use a fridge in the restroom for such purpose;
- pipetting by mouth and re-capping syringes are prohibited;
- abrasions and cuts should be covered with waterproof clothes;
- laboratory workers should wear only closed-toed shoes;
- protective gloves and laboratory coats should be worn in the laboratory;
- all laboratory workers have to know the location of the first aid kit, emergency shower, and eyewash station, fire exits, and firefighting equipment;
- all staff should monitor temperatures in the laboratory and refrigerators every 8 hours.
The following health and safety precautions are recommended:
- handwashing: a golden rule for every lab employee;
- eye protection: all staff members should wear goggles whenever there is a risk of chemical hazard;
- protective gloves: must be worn as protection against chemicals or biological hazards.
The Procedure of Dealing with Incidents
All incidents taking place at laboratories should be reported to recognize and analyze how and why the incident occurred and what should be done to prevent similar cases. Incident reporting is performed by the Quality Department policy and incorporates such steps:
- access Internet Explorer and start using hospital intranet;
- choose UHC intranet and begin reporting as per instructions, taking care to fill in all the required fields;
- reset the timing every 15 minutes to carry on the procedure of a report;
- identify the appropriate harm score associated with the severity of the incident;
- mention the right location of the event;
- write explicit information about the incident;
- use professional style while writing a report;
- Click the “submit” button when the report is completed.
Reporting about incidents is rather crucial for laboratory employees, as neglecting to inform the hospital’s administration about dangerous occurrences may lead to adverse outcomes both for laboratory staff and all the other hospital employees. If an incident is not reported timely and appropriately, other team members cannot know that there is a potentially dangerous situation, or that some circumstances may prevent hospital workers from the effective fulfillment of their duties.
- Clarke S, Guediri S, Lee A. Leadership and safety: a self-regulation and social learning perspective. In: Kelloway EK, Nielsen K, Dimoff JK, editors. Leading to occupational health and safety: how leadership behaviours impact organizational safety and well-being. Malden: Wiley Blackwell; 2017. p. 9-32.
- Hill RH, Finster DC. Laboratory safety for chemistry students. 2nd ed. Hoboken: Wiley; 2016.
- Wald PH. Introduction to physical hazards. In: Stave GM, Wald PH, editors. Physical and biological hazards of the workplace. 3rd ed. Hoboken: Wiley; 2017. p. 3-12.