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PC/1998/1/7 Appendix 3

Good Microbiological Practice

Each employee of the collection must be aware of relevant safety aspects before handling biological material. Each employee has to be aware also of all relevant national regulations concerning the material to work with.
Each employee should be informed about these rules to make sure that by his behaviour, by organisational measures and the use of the suitable equipment a contamination of man and environment with microbes especially with pathogenic microbes is avoided as far as possible.
Employees in Germany should be informed:

  • about the contents of the UVV Biotechnologie (VBG 102),
  • about the contents of the BG Chemie Merk-blattes B 002 Sichere Biotechnologie-Ausstattung und orga-ni-satorische Maßnahmen: Laborato-rien,
  • about the contents of Gentechnik-Sicherheitsverordnung, insbesondere § 9 und Anhang III A. Sicher--heits-maß-nahmen für den Laborbereich, sowie
  • about the contents of DIN Fachberichtes Nr. 7 Verminderung des Infektionsrisikos in der medi-zi-ni-schen Mikro-biologie)
Microbes may contaminate humans via the respiratory ducts, the stomach, the intestine, the eyes, mucous membranes and especially after injuries via the skin. The development of an infection depends on the constitution of the infected person, the dose of infection, the way of infection and the virulence of the infecting microorganism.

The number of infections that had occurred in non-medical, microbiological laboratories over the time is unknown. The major reason is that in most of these laboratories work is carried out only with non-pathogenic microorganisms. Even in medical laboratories where work is carried out mostly with potentially pathogenic microorganisms the number of announced infections is relatively rare 1.
Nevertheless it has to be taken into account that for most of the strains maintained at DSMZ the dose of injection is unknown as well as their virulence. The personal constitution of employees may vary largely and even for each specific employee. It has also be taken into account that during the work with pure cultures the dose of infection may be much higher and the way of infection may be different from a naturally occurring infection (for example by inhaling of highly contaminated aerosols or via prick with hypodermic needles filled with concentrated bacterial suspensions).

Therefore (and for reasons which may be even unknown) all work should be carried out following the «Good Laboratory Practice Guidelines « listed below:

General Guidelines

  • Laboratory doors and windows should be kept closed when work is in progress.
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, storing food and applying cosmetics is not permitted in the laboratory. Labels must not be licked. Materials must not be placed in the mouth.
  • Protective laboratory clothing must be worn for work in the laboratory.
  • Pipetting by mouth is not allowed, pipetting aids should be available.
  • The use of hypodermic needles and syringes should be restricted to the work with anaerobic micro-organisms.
  • All technical procedures should be performed in a way that minimizes the formation of aerosols and droplets.
  • After finishing work, and before leaving the laboratory, hands must be washed. If infectious materials have been handled, hands should be disinfected.
  • Working space should be kept clean and cleared up.
  • The identity (authenticity)  of the biological material used should be checked in regularly intervals.
  • Before starting work with biological materials, employees should be instructed on safety aspects. The instruction should be repeated annually.
  • Employees untrained in microbiology have to be instructed extensively. They should be carefully guided and supervised.
  • There should be an arthropod and rodent control programme.

For handling risk group 2 organisms the following guidelines should be also observed:

  • Work surfaces must be decontaminated at the end of the working day.
  • Protective laboratory clothing should not be worn in non-laboratory areas. It should not be stored in the same lockers or cupboards as street clothing.
  • All contaminated materials must be decontaminated before cleaning for reuse. All infected waste must be safely collected and decontaminated before disposal.
  • After any spill of potentially dangerous material the contaminated area should be closed and must be decontaminated.
  • During the work with microorganisms or viruses pathogenic for man, where protection by vaccination  is possible the employees should be vaccinated if possible and the results of the vaccination should be controlled.
  • The health status and the personal constitution of all employees have to be controlled be a preventive medical checkup at the start of the work and by annually repeated preventive medical checkups.
(In Germany relevant guidelines the preventive medical Checkups should follow are:  Grundsätze G 24 "Hauterkrankungen" and  G 42 "Infektionskrankheiten" issued by the «Berufsgenossenschaft»)
  • The handling of genetically modified organisms (GMO), viruses and subviral agents have to be carried out according to national and international law (For Germany the guidelines: Grundsatz G 43 "Biotechnologie" and the «Gentechnikgesetz» have to be followed).
  • Written guidelines about «Fist Aid» in the case of accidents with pathogenic microorganisms have to be available in every laboratory. All accidents have to be announced to the employer.
Additional safety measures may be necessary depending on the risk potential:
  • The use of biology safety cabinets (class I, II or III).
  • Only persons who have been advised of the potential hazard and who meet specific entry requirements may be allowed to enter certain laboratory working areas.
  • Use of special protective clothing or breathing mask.
  • Disinfection of all contaminated materials before removing these from the working place.
  • Reduction of microorganisms in the exhaust air (e.G. HEPA filters).--
  • Pregnant women or a breast-feeding mothers may not work with microorganisms or agents pathogenic for humans.

1) P.R. Hunter, Occupational infections of workers in medical laboratories. Microbiology Europe, September/ October 1993, p. 8-12

Guidelines prepared for CABRI by DSMZ, 20 Jan. 1998; updated February 2000
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