100 Safety Breaches Reported At UK Labs

Safety Breaches And Near Misses At UK Labs Reported


Over 100 breaches in safety have occurred in labs handling dangerous bacteria and viruses across the UK, a report has revealed.
The report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) obtained by the Guardian revealed that many of the incidents have ended in legal action, while others resulted in the closure of some labs.
Breaches include improper equipment, such as tears in specialist suits used in a facility handling Ebola-infected animals, as well as one incident that accidentally exposed scientists to anthrax. Fortunately, the scientists involved had been vaccinated.
Some of the incidents reported concerned inevitable human error, though some underlined there to a number of breaches in safety, as opposed to one isolated failure.

Labs reporting a high number of incidents such as these were not seen as necessarily the most careless; the quality of the reporting system, and professionalism of staff, ultimately determined how many incidents came to light in the report.
The report from the HSE details 75 completed investigations that have occurred in the last five years, all of which have been reported by a manager from the lab in question.

Expert Opinion
It is very worrying to see these reports and the number of safety breaches which have emerged at UK laboratories in recent years. The handling of hazardous bacteria or substances is fraught with risk, so it is always vital that a robust system of health and safety is in place in such work environments.

"This should cover all areas from personal protective equipment, to ensuring that all workers are adequately supervised and trained to carry out their tasks in the safest possible manner.

"Safety must always come first."
Stephen Nye, Partner