Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (November 2015)

A supervisor with the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg who was infected by one of the diseases that he was researching in 2012 had insufficient safety training at the time.

A report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) was one of the several that the PHAC prepared about laboratory workers who contract the diseases with which they experiment. Sylwia Kryszlon, senior advisor of media relations with the PHAC, confirms that the incident occurred.

“The pathogen involved was a level 2 enteric pathogen,” Krzyszton says. “Level 2 enteric pathogens include E. coli and salmonella. Naming a specific pathogen would compromise the confidentiality of the person in question.”

Krzyzston adds that the pathogens that researchers handle in the NML’s containment level II laboratories include those listed in schedule two of the Federal Human Pathogen and Toxins Act, which was consolidated in 2009 and last amended in June 2012. The list includes numerous bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. “These types of pathogens pose a moderate individual risk in a low community risk, even treatments are available,” she notes.

The incident occurred three years ago, and no employees have contracted any laboratory-acquired infections in the period since, Krzyzston reports. “Since then, all corrective measures have been taken, including an enhanced training, monitoring and oversight.”

Laboratory has since initiated a formal safety-training program that is mandatory for all employees and supervisors. The NML now closely supervises all new trainees until they pass the required training courses. “The supervisor completed the required training immediately following the incident,” says Krzyzston, referring to the worker who was infected in 2012.

In addition, the NML has hired a training coordinator who provides information about specific training courses that individual employees need and identifies cases in which workers require training. “Audits take place on a regular basis to monitor adherence to improve practices,” Krzyzston adds.

My opinion

It always seems that training becomes a requirement AFTER any type of incident or accident occurs. The story may be a new one for us here at the blog but it’s a continued story anywhere you want to talk about whether in Canada or South of the border or in many places around the world.

Is my sincere wish that training coordinators or health and safety professionals be brought on to assess any training needs and ensure that any training provided will meet and exceed all regulatory requirements.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including training requirement assessments. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.