Train staff to recognize symptoms of TB, HIV and, if applicable, other laboratory associated infections and facilitate access to diagnostic and medical services for staff members that have potentially become infected during work


The laboratory is a potentially dangerous place to work. The risk of infection is always present. When staff members are aware of symptoms of the most common laboratory infections, they will be able to react faster and better in the event that they are potentially infected with a pathogen. To facilitate a rapid and appropriate response, laboratory staff must have quick and easy access to diagnostic services, preferably free of charge.


  • Make staff aware of the symptoms of laboratory associated infections
  • Create easy access to diagnostic and medical services. If possible, make these services free of charge so that not the staff member but the laboratory (or insurance company if possible) will cover the costs. This further decreases the barrier to find help in case a staff member does not have enough money to pay the services
  • The privacy of the staff member needing medical services should always be maintained
  • Arrange pre-exposure prophylaxis (vaccination against Hepatitis B and regular TB checks)

How & who

Biosafety Officer:

  1. Present and discuss the symptoms of Tuberculosis and HIV with all staff members. Explain to the staff members what they should do when they have these symptoms. When the laboratory works a lot with other pathogens besides Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the HIV virus also discuss how to recognize infection with these pathogens.
  2. If possible, have all the staff members working with human materials vaccinated against Hepatitis B (this is obligatory in many countries) and organize regular checks for TB. Coordinate this in cooperation with the Laboratory Manager.
  3. Make sure that laboratory staff have access to appropriate post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), diagnostic and medical services (including financial assistance when needed). Do this also in cooperation with the Laboratory Manager. PEP is a prophylactic that can be administered directly after a potential infection with a pathogen. Examples of diseases for which PEP must be available: Rabies, HIV, Tetanus and Hepatitis A, B and C. For more information the World Health Organization (WHO)/International Labour Organization (ILO) developed a guide for HIV PEP. The WHO also has a webpage on Rabies PEP.
  4. Write the procedure on what to do when staff members (potentially) have become infected in the laboratory, including the administration of PEP and visiting of medical services. Later in this phase the Laboratory Biosafety Manual needs to be written. This procedure will become part of this manual. Therefore, try to closely follow the outline of the template of the Biosafety Manual chapter in the right-hand column. The example of the Biosafety Manual chapter is also provided to give an indication of the level of detail used for the Biosafety Manual.

Laboratory manager:

  1. Assist the Biosafety Officer in arranging pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis.

Singh has published a useful article on laboratory-acquired infections in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2009. This article provides an overview of the world-wide most common laboratory acquired infections and how they are treated. Go to the NLM (US National Institute of Medicine) record on PubMed by clicking here.

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This activity belongs to the QSE Facilities & Safety
ISO15189:2007: 5.1.10
ISO15189:2012: 5.1.5
ISO15190:2003: 5.15.21011.3