22 January 2013
London hospital to face claims after TB container accident?
Four employees of a hospital in London could launch compensation claims after it emerged they had been exposed to a potentially-lethal strain of tuberculosis (TB).
An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established a number of failings in the way in which a specialist laboratory at Royal Brampton Hospital was managed and maintained in the run up to an accident there in January 2011.
Staff at the medical institution came into contact with a strain of multi-drug resistant TB when a test vial smashed in the CL3 containment facility, which is used by professionals to provide a microbiological diagnostic service.
The HSE's analysis of this incident found there was no safe system of work in place in the laboratory because the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBHT) had conducted insufficient risk assessments for activities involving TB.
There was also a lack of understanding as to what exactly constituted a critical control measure as aspects such as the laboratory's filters and sealability were not properly monitored, tested or maintained.
In addition, the NHS body had not provided adequate training to the professionals responsible for health and safety in the laboratory and failed to establish suitable arrangements so an emergency could be dealt with if need be.
During a subsequent case heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court, it emerged that three people were in the vicinity when the container smashed, while a fourth member of staff also risked coming into contact with the substance while assisting with the clear up operation a day later.
As such, the RBHT was hit with a fine of £12,500 after admitting breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Mara Ajder, inspector at the HSE, commented: "There are well established practices for handling this agent safely, but in this case these practices simply weren't met and several members of staff were exposed to a real risk of infection … the consequences of that one smashed vial could have been very serious."
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Posted by Trusha Vyas