The following is the responsibility of the principal investigator for personnel with potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material and other research-related occupational health issues.
As a Principal Investigator (Principal Investigator View Boston University's policy on...), your responsibility is to make sure that your research project is carried out with maximum safety considerations. This notice is to inform Principal Investigators of their role in preventive health services for those who work in laboratories or on research projects.
It is the PI’s responsibility to see that researchers, technicians, students, or volunteers who work in your laboratory who have contact with animals, infectious agents, or bloodborne pathogens are medically evaluated prior to starting work. Also, that anyone working with bloodborne pathogens is offered the hepatitis B vaccination series administered by Research Occupational Health Program in compliance with the Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Policy for Boston University/Boston Medical Center.
It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that researchers, technicians, students, or volunteers who work in the laboratory receive laboratory safety training.
It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that all personnel working in laboratories with a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) or higher designation, with agents that are potentially infectious to humans, or who work with animals have a medical assessment by Research Occupational Health Program before starting work.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that anyone potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens from blood or other potentially infectious materials in research studies or in laboratory areas is offered the hepatitis B vaccination series and antibody testing. These services are by administered Research Occupational Health Program in compliance with the Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Policy for Boston University/Boston University Medical Campus/Boston Medical Center.
The PI is responsible for overall health and safety requirements and is to provide laboratory specific training. It is the responsibility of the PI to contact Research Occupational Health Program (Research Occupational Health Program ROHP is part of the ...) 24/7 at (617) 414-7647 if there is a potential exposure or accident in the lab.
In addition to visible blood, the following fluids are also considered potentially infectious:
- cerebral spinal fluid,
- synovial fluid,
- pleural fluid,
- peritoneal fluids,
- pericardial fluids,
- and amniotic fluids.
Semen and vaginal body fluids are also considered potentially infectious, but have not been implicated as a source of transmission in occupational exposures.
It also should be noted that the Hepatitis B virus has been demonstrated to survive in dried blood at room temperature on environmental surfaces for at least a week.
Medical Evaluations after Exposure
It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that any person present in a Boston University laboratory who has an incident involving potential exposure to an infectious agent is offered immediate access to a medical evaluation at Research Occupational Health Program (listed below) or at the BMC Emergency Department (after hours, holidays and weekends). An immediate evaluation is important, as efficacy of post-exposure medication for HIV and other infectious agents may be less effective if the initiation of treatment is delayed.
Work with Non-Human Primates
It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that personnel working with non-human primates, or their tissues have a physical examination, an evaluation for tuberculosis, and an immunization screen. Additionally, such individuals must provide serum for banking, when required, prior to commencing work with these animals, be informed about the risks and preventive services available and wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
Medical Clearance for Respirator
It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that each individual completes a medical clearance for respirator use prior to fit testing for a respirator.
Allergy or Asthma Symptoms
It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that personnel who develop symptoms of allergy or asthma that occur upon exposure to experimental animals are referred to Research Occupational Health Program for evaluation.
In keeping with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, this policy requires annual Standard Precautions Training, a Hepatitis B Immunization Program, and a post exposure medical management program. Hepatitis B viral infection is one of the most frequent laboratory associated infections, and laboratory personnel are recognized as a high-risk group for acquiring this infection (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)).
Avoiding occupational exposure to human blood, body fluids and tissues is the primary way to prevent transmission of bloodborne pathogens. The goal of the initial and annual standard precautions training is to present information on how to prevent such exposures by administrative controls, work place engineering controls, proper work practices, personal protective equipment and a Hepatitis B Vaccine Immunization Program.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Under the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, Boston University and Boston Medical Center are required to offer the Hepatitis B Vaccine to all employees at risk within 10 days of starting their work assignment. The employees must be informed of the benefits and risks of the vaccine and if they choose not to receive it at the initial evaluation time, they must sign a declination form.
If the employee has had the vaccine previously, but has not had a blood antibody titer to confirm his/her immunity in the past, the employee will be offered the opportunity to have a titer drawn. An employee who declines the vaccine, may at any time elect to have the vaccine if his/her job tasks or work setting continue to have the risk of potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
If research projects are designated Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) or higher, it is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that your employees who are at risk are evaluated by Research Occupational Health Program (ROHP) due to potential risk of exposure to human blood, body fluids, tissues, human cell cultures, or human cell lines.
Please contact ROHP at (617) 414-7647 to make an appointment with a medical provider.
If the research project is located at a facility at another institution, such as the VA Hospital, or at the Framingham Heart Study, occupational health services should be available on-site at that institution. Contact Research Occupational Health Program at (617) 414-7647 for assistance in arranging access to appropriate services.
Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens
Personnel can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens by:
- being stuck with contaminated needles,
- lacerations from contaminated sharp instruments
- being splashed with blood or body fluids on the mucous membrane of the eye, nose or mouth, or on abraded non-intact skin, i.e., chapped skin, or skin affected by dermatitis.
Any direct contact (i.e., contact without barrier protection) to concentrated Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, or any other infectious virus in a research laboratory or production facility is considered an exposure that requires clinical evaluation. All employees working with human cell cultures should be offered Hepatitis B vaccination, and be evaluated if an exposure occurs.
If, during research, any personnel have an exposure to bloodborne pathogens, he/she must immediately contact Research Occupational Health Program at (617) 414-7647.
An immediate evaluation is important, as efficacy of post-exposure medication for HIV may be less effective if the initiation of treatment is delayed. For more information, call BU’s Research Occupational Health Program at (617) 414-7647.