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The Importance of Biosafety Training and Risk Assessment

Biosafety training and risk assessment are crucial for maintaining global health and safety. While you…

Biosafety training and risk assessment are crucial for maintaining global health and safety. While you may believe your lab follows all the necessary protocols and guidelines, a biosafety expert can help you fill in gaps and optimize productivity and efficiency. 

Our credentialed professionals at MRIGlobal have more than 100 years of combined experience in clinical and research laboratories of all levels. We work closely with public, private, and government institutions—domestically and internationally—for the best possible environments. 

We specialize in defense, human health, pharmaceutical sciences, in-vitro diagnostics, energy and transportation, agriculture, and global health. Our solution-driven teams are dedicated to finding answers that will make the country and world safer for all. 

Read more about the importance of biosafety training and risk assessment across a variety of industries. 

Why is biosafety training important?

At the end of the day, you never want to assume that your facility’s biosafety practices are up to par; you want to know, without a doubt, that they are comprehensive and effective. Biosafety training ensures that you and your team (or whoever else is involved) are properly handling infectious organisms and hazardous biological materials. This not only keeps those working in the lab safe, it also protects anyone else that comes in contact. 

Biosafety also helps you understand and implement risk management that is unique to your facility. With risk management, you are in charge of deciding the best way to move forward while minimizing the occurrence of unforeseen problems. Basically, risk management is a proactive measure that drives proper containment. 

Regardless of the containment level, whether that be a BSL-1 or BSL-4, biosafety training is considered a best practice for anyone involved. 

Biosafety 101: Understanding Laboratory Biosafety Levels →

Understanding biosafety principles

The two biggest factors that come into the forefront of biosafety are (1) containment and (2) risk assessment. When combining these two measures, you prevent exposure to those working in the lab and exposure outside of the lab. 

In terms of containment, there are three main components:

  1. Lab practices
  2. Safety equipment 
  3. Facility/lab design 

Within the lab, containment is either primary or secondary. Primary containment is designed to protect the people within the lab from exposure. This may include biological safety cabinets, fume hoods, enclosed containers, and more. Personal protective equipment such as masks or gloves can also fall into this category. 

Secondary containment prevents biological hazards and pathogens from escaping the lab and exposing the outside. The design and architecture of the lab and building are crucial for secondary containment. It can also include ventilation systems, handwashing stations, and airlocks. 

Biological risk assessment centers around your facility, and must be specific to the materials you’re working with. Proper risk assessment not only considers the biological agent, it also determines the potential consequences of certain activities. In doing so, you discover aspects of your lab that could increase the likelihood of exposure, giving you a chance to resolve an issue before it causes major harm. 

Learn more about general biosafety principles. → 

What to expect during biosafety training and risk assessment

Biosafety training through MRIGlobal, begins with our experts visiting your lab or facility. To create a customized training program, it’s important that we understand how a lab is used, functions, how it’s set up, and the biosafety practices currently employed. This review includes analyzing primary and secondary containment measures. 

Not every facility will have completely different guidelines. For labs in the United States, we always use the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), which serves as a cornerstone for safety practices. Outside of the U.S., we follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) biosafety manual. From those manuals we’re able draft templates that build upon and customize those general guidelines. 

From there we take the following steps:

  1. Review necessary documents 
  2. Make gap assessments
  3. Train personnel

While training will vary from facility to facility (and country to country), some basic information may include:

  • Proper clothing guidelines, including what to wear, how to wear personal protective equipment, and best practices of doffing and disposing of these items
  • Handling infectious diseases 
  • Caring for and disinfecting work areas 
  • Universal guidelines (created by the CDC and other health organizations)
  • Placement of storage of materials 

At the conclusion of a biosafety training program, we’re either able to sign off that your facility meets the requirements or we can help you hire people to fill gaps. Newer labs tend to have more gaps than older labs, so it’s best to keep that in mind throughout the training process. 

Note: MRIGlobal will not enter hot labs for training; therefore, all pathogens must be removed before our visit. 

Biosafety and disease outbreak management 

Biosafety is the foundation for preventing and stopping disease outbreaks. Our biosafety team works with host-nation governments, national health care personnel, members of the international donor community, and contractor partners to enhance each nation’s capacity to manage future disease outbreaks.

Research of highly infectious diseases helps develop testing, drug treatments, and vaccines to protect the global community. However, without biosafety measures, the research could end up doing more harm than good.

After the Ebola outbreak of 2014-15, our team emerged as leaders in biohazard containment and education. To this day, we work with students in West Africa for Ebola recovery and to safely manage potential outbreaks in the future. Through our SMART training for BSL-4 labs, we provide lab simulations where students learn about personal protective equipment and how to work safely in BSL-4. Our program introduces virtual reality video as a tool, allowing students to visualize the work in a BSL-3 or BSL-4 lab prior to the suits-on training.

With today’s pandemic, people appreciate the importance of biosafety and recognize that it’s not limited to laboratories. Our team works with universities, private companies, government clients, and more to help prevent the further spread of the Covid-19. We provide objective, third-party expertise to help our clients navigate through the current crisis with confidence. 

As businesses and organizations around the country reopen, it’s important that everyone take the proper precautions to protect staff and others who are on the premises. 

Deliverables included with our COVID-19 biosafety training include: 

  • Effective emergency and pandemic response plans and gap assessments of existing plans
  • Facility risk assessments
  • Threat assessment matrices to guide your business continuity decisions
  • Training for different stakeholder groups on topics ranging from housekeeping practices to the proper use of personal protective equipment to infectious disease clean-up
  • On-call expertise
  • Annual reviews of infectious disease programs

Benefits of working with MRIGlobal

There really isn’t a lot we can’t do or won’t attempt to do, which is why many of our customers come to us in search of innovative solutions.  

As leaders in the industry, we stay abreast of current biosafety guidelines to ensure our customers remain above the curve. That means we don’t provide generalized programs. We take the time to understand each facility’s unique concerns. Our customized biosafety and security services include:

  • Biosafety and security training and credentialing mentorship, audit, and risk assessments for regulatory requirements
  • Expert advisory and consultation services for architecture/engineering firms involved in design of laboratory facilities
  • Development of protocols, policies, and training programs according to facility needs and OSHA, ISO, NIH, and CDC guidelines
  • Staffing for facilities involved in basic, pre-clinical, and applied research studies of infectious diseases of all risk groups
  • Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) services to healthcare providers, clinic/hospital administrators, and clinical diagnostics laboratories

For more than 20 years, MRIGlobal has supported biosafety and biorisk management program development in the U.S. and internationally. Our credentialed and experienced safety experts remain at the forefront of our company’s efforts to promote compliance in our own facilities, giving our clients the best laboratory experience possible. 

Our drive, along with disciplined program management, allows us to deliver the highest quality services, up-to-date site assessments, and biosafety training to build a credible reputation throughout the world. 

Get started with a biosafety training program and risk assessment through MRIGlobal

For more than 75 years, MRIGlobal has advanced scientific research across a variety of industries. We focus on supporting better health outcomes on a global scale. For us, it’s not simply about science; it’s about the people who make it all happen. 

We are solution-driven. We find answers in even the most complex situations. Through our dedication, we can solve virtually any technical problem. 

To learn more about our biosafety training programs, contact us at info@mriglobal.org. For a free quote, please complete our online form. 

If you’re part of an agency, business, or academic institution seeking help with a project, use our Project Quote Tool to get started today. 

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With a focus on translating new technologies that support better health outcomes for human, animals, and our environment, we apply our diverse and cutting-edge technical capabilities and expertise to deliver smart, collaborative solutions that solve our partners' precise needs.

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