Physician Practice

COVID-19 and the pyramid: Protecting laboratorians

Medical Environment Update, June 14, 2020

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Editor’s note: In this guest column, Dan Scungio, MT(ASCP), SLS, laboratory safety officer for multihospital system Sentara Healthcare in Virginia, and otherwise known as “Dan, the Lab Safety Man,” discusses the important issues that affect your job every day.

In 1950, the United States National Safety Council began describing what became known as the “hierarchy of controls.” Often depicted as a pyramid, it lists in order of importance and effectiveness the methods required to separate employees from potential hazards on the job. Later, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) worked with this same hierarchy. Then the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began to make use of the pyramid on their Hazard Prevention and Control webpages. Proper use of the hierarchy of controls in the lab today can help us remain safe as we work with samples from COVID-19–positive patients.

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