8.2.1 Infectious spills (outside a biological safety cabinet)

A spill of infectious material outside a BSC is considered a major event. Spills of infectious liquid will generate infectious aerosols. Everyone should immediately vacate the affected laboratory area. The laboratory manager should be informed of the incident immediately, and staff must be prevented from re-entering the laboratory for at least 1 hour to allow aerosols to be removed through the laboratory’s ventilation system and allow time for heavier particles to settle.

Signs should be posted indicating that entry is forbidden during the clean-up procedure. Appropriate protective clothing and respiratory protection MUST be worn.

The following spill clean-up procedure should be used.

1. Put on gloves, a protective laboratory gown and respirator.

2. Re-enter the affected area.

3. Cover the spill with cloth or paper towels to contain it.

4. Pour an appropriate disinfectant over the paper towels and the immediate surrounding area (generally, 5% bleach solutions are appropriate).

5. Apply disinfectant concentrically beginning at the outer margin of the spill and working towards the centre.

6. Allow sufficient time for the disinfectant to act before clearing away any material for disposal. If broken glass or other sharps are involved, use a dustpan or a piece of stiff cardboard to collect the material and place it in a puncture-resistant container for disposal.

7. Place other contaminated material in a sealed bag for appropriate disposal.

8. Clean and disinfect the area of the spill.

Anyone who was exposed to the spill should be referred for medical advice; a record should be kept of the incident.

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