Monday, December 14, 2015

CDC Grand Rounds - Strengthening A Culture of Lab Safety


While 2014 will be remembered as an annus horribilous for federal lab safety - notable for lab incidents involving H5N1, Smallpox, and Anthax - 2015 has had some high profile lab blunders as well (see DOD Inadvertently Ships Live Anthrax To 9 Labs).

In the wake of these, and other lab incidents, the CDC has pledged to help instill a `culture of safety' - not only in their labs, but in labs around the country.  Some of the steps the CDC has taken include:
There are, of course, hundreds (if not thousands) of bio labs around the country, large and small, and many more around the world.  There is no single regulatory authority, and standards of safety and conduct vary considerably.

How many incidents really occur each year is unknown, but the data we do have (see USA Today Hundreds of bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy) suggests there are a lot of them.   All of which has led to articles like:

The Journal Nature Weighs In On Lab Accidents & Biosafety

SciAm: Branswell On Lab Biosafety

Tomorrow the CDC - which has gained a lot of experience in these matters the past two years - will offer a Grand Rounds Presentation on fostering a strong culture of laboratory safety.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 at 1pm ET.

Photo: Lab technician at work.
Laboratory safety may sound straightforward, but in reality it is supported by complex and ever-changing science. Safety standards and practices evolve as scientists learn more about the materials they handle regularly. Today, more than 2000 laboratory scientists in more than 150 labs at CDC work with specimens to identify new health threats, stop outbreaks, and gain new knowledge. Laboratory work saves lives and protects people. Though this work is critical, it is not without risk. Labs are often working with the deadliest germs, toxins, and environmental hazards in the world.

A strong culture of laboratory safety helps the world-class scientists at CDC work in the safest possible environment, but no one is perfect. As new information becomes available, safety practices must change to remain up to date and relevant. Every lab is different. Effective safety practices in one lab may not be successful in another. Labs must stay organized, developing their own internal quality controls to provide safety and security for their scientists and for the public.

In this session of Public Health Grand Rounds, our panel will discuss how standards of laboratory safety have improved over the years, what we’ve learned from past incidents, and how establishing safety protocols and training systems can lead to an overall culture of workplace safety, resulting in continued public trust in our science and recommendations.

Presented By:

Stephan Monroe, PhD Associate Director, Laboratory Science and Safety
Office of the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety, CDC
"Evolution of Laboratory Safety Standards"
Conrad P. Quinn, PhD Chief, Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
"Quality, Safety and Public Health Impact of Lab Science: A Case Study"
Joseph Kanabrocki, PhD, CBSP Associate Vice President, Research Safety Professor of Microbiology 
University of Chicago
"Establishing a Culture of Safety in an Academic Research Institution: Teaching Safety to Scientists"

Facilitated By:

John Iskander, MD, MPH, Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH, Deputy Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds Susan Laird, MSN, RN, Communications Director, Public Health Grand Rounds