As a provider of central laboratory testing for clinical trials, a focus on stringent laboratory safety standards is a commitment that ACM Global Laboratories shares with the entire healthcare industry. Following biosafety standards mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization is vital for limiting exposure to infectious diseases. Every day, our dedicated laboratorians adhere to best practices that minimize their risk of coming into contact with infectious microbes that may be present in blood, plasma, urine, feces, and other specimen types. It must be assumed that all biological samples are potentially hazardous.
As concerns about environmental health and safety measures became heightened as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, questions arose about the best practices and PPE needed to maintain productivity in the central lab while simultaneously keeping employees safe from a new pathogen that the medical and scientific communities were just beginning to understand. Do some specimens pose more of an exposure risk to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, than others? What biosafety level was needed to protect against exposure to the novel virus?
To address these concerns, The ACM COVID-19 Task Force worked closely with the Systems Incident Command Center from Rochester Regional Health in Rochester, New York to perform thorough risk assessments and gather occupational safety and health information from the CDC and New York State Health officials.
After careful review of the most current health information, the Department of Environmental Health & Safety and Quality Assurance at ACM took specific actions to minimize the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. It was determined that working with blood and urine samples posed less of a risk than handling respiratory specimens.
Since research has demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted through respiratory secretions from an infected person, ACM implemented enhanced universal laboratory safety procedures that—in addition to biosafety level 2 requirements already established at our lab facilities— include extra precautions for handling upper and lower respiratory tract specimens. The following information outlines standard universal lab safety procedures and enhanced precautions for clinical laboratory employees at ACM Global and Rochester Regional Health Laboratories.
Safeguarding our employees and the communities where they work has always been of paramount importance at ACM Global. With the aid of seasoned professionals, we will continue to adopt public health measures designed to preserve wellbeing. As new guidance related to COVID-19 or other potential health threats emerge, our company will continue to onboard best practices in the interest of supporting employees and our valued clients.
The global response to COVID-19 has further raised public health awareness and has increased the resolve of clinical laboratories to build upon mandatory lab safety monitoring practices. Ultimately, these changes benefit the healthcare industry as a whole.