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Free Content Investigation of biological risk in mycobacteriology laboratories: a multicentre study

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SETTING: Microbiology laboratories constitute a special working environment that may pose a risk of infectious disease to persons in or near them.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether clinical mycobacteriology laboratories in Spanish hospitals comply with occupational health and safety guidelines, and if laboratory workers are protected against the risk of exposure to biological agents in the workplace.

DESIGN: A transversal epidemiological study was carried out in 26 hospitals from October to December 2000 by means of a standardised survey questionnaire to evaluate the workers, workload, training and information and safety practices in mycobacteria laboratories.

RESULTS: Less than half of employees receive periodic information on the health hazards involved in their work. More than a third of the workers in mycobacteriology laboratories stated that the laboratories lack effective air filtering systems and more than half stated that negative pressurisation was not maintained in the work area. Biosafety masks are used by little more than half of the workers. The most frequently used Biological Safety Cabinets are Class IIB.

CONCLUSION: Our findings demonstrate that clinical microbiology laboratories in Spanish hospitals comply poorly with the prevention measures outlined in the applicable directives and regulations.
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Keywords: biological risk; laboratory; mycobacteria; occupational health; safety

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Mycobacteria Reference Laboratory, University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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