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Animal lab reprimanded for poor safety again


The laboratory responsible for the foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK four years ago has been reprimanded again for failing to meet safety standards in its work with the virus (BBC, Farmers Guardian).

The Health and Safety Executive told the Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright in Surrey to improve laboratory practices after an investigation earlier this year revealed the failings. The HSE issued the lab an improvement notice after a small amount of waste liquid leaked within the incinerator room in February. The incident was related to work being carried out with the virus, although the leaked liquid did not contain the virus.

The lab was also issued with an improvement notice to improve procedures after it was discovered that a sample of the disease was being held in a cracked flask. The IAH says the safety cabinet and the surrounding area were thoroughly cleaned, and no virus escaped from the lab and nor was there any no risk that it would do so.

The IAH has complied with the first improvement notice, having reviewed its procedures for maintaining the incinerator. But the lab is appealing the second HSE improvement notice.

An HSE spokesperson said in a statement, “HSE can confirm that two improvement notices have been issued, one of which has been complied with and one of which has been appealed.”

The lab and the HSE say they are currently discussing the issues around the incident involving the cracked flask and that no further comment can be made at this time.

See Nature’s coverage of the 2007 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease blamed on dilapidated facilities at the IAH.

Image: United States Department of Agriculture


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