Re: Laboratory Safety Nightmare!

From:Vinnie Della Speranza <>


you have all of our collective sympathies. We wish you well in your efforts to effect the needed improvements at your facility.

I highly recommend that you get your hands on the Histology Safety Manual authored by Janet and Dick Dapson of Anatech Ltd, the most comprehensive  yet easily readable safety manual geared for HISTOLOGY Labs. You can reach them at (616) 964-6450. This is the best reference of its kind that I have seen

You also should know that OSHA offers a consultation service. They will send in someone at your request to make recommendations to help your facility become compliant. When you ask for their help, they will not take any punitive action against your facility and they can best help you to meet the letter of the law. This is assuming that you believe that your employer truly wishes to become compliant, whatever it takes. I am not suggesting that you file a complaint with OSHA. Once again, contact their consultation section to arrange for someone to advise you on what corrective action is needed.

Good Luck,

Vinnie Della Speranza
Manager for Anatomic Pathology Services
Medical University of South Carolina
165 Ashley Avenue
Suite 309
Charleston, SC  29425
ph:  (843) 792-6353
fax: (843) 792-8974

>>> <> 11/15/00 02:28PM >>>
Dear HistoNet Colleagues,
     Ten weeks ago, I inherited the supervisory position for a histology lab 
at a very large animal hospital.  Eager to run the lab in a safe and legally 
compliant manner, I signed up for and attended the "Specializing in 
Laboratory Safety" Workshop #19 at the NSH Symposium in Milwaukee.  Since 
then, I have been researching safety protocols and regulations from the 
resources I learned of there.
     The lab is in critical condition.  We have no fume hood and have been 
using formalin, acetone, xylene, uranium nitrate, ammonium hydroxide, 
concentrated acids, hydroquinone, picric acid, and whatever else we use for 
routine samples and special stains without a fume hood.  I wear a respirator 
mask when using some of the nastier chemicals.  Despite this precaution, I 
developed a marked respiratory sensitivity to D-Limonene and was forced to 
quickly eliminate it from the lab.  Our processor, 55-gallon waste drum, and 
special staining area are all completely unventilated.  Our stainer has a 
basically non-functioning charcoal filtration "hood" over it and we have a 
small Shandon charcoal filtered work station hood for coverslipping.  The 
slide flats do not even fit entirely in this coverslipping hood, so there is 
inevitable continuous exposure to the clearing agent during coverslipping,=20
despite the fact that the hood functions well.
     I am also reasonably certain that we are in violation of fire codes.  We 
do have an acceptable flammable chemical storage cabinet, but I suspect that 
the quantities we store in there, particularly in addition to our waste drum, 
exceed the acceptable fire code limitations when considering the square 
footage of the lab.
     I gave a safety tour of the lab to my colleagues and the truly wonderful 
news is that, now that they are all aware of the hazards, the manager of the 
pathology labs and all of the pathologists are very supportive and equally 
eager to create a safe lab environment.  We have a safety officer on site, 
who quickly rounded up dozens of MSDSs for me, but I believe that the scope 
of this issue may be well beyond any of her previous experiences.
     What I am hoping for is advice on how to find documentation of OSHA 
regulations or any other documents of legally mandated safety standards.  I 
am overwhelmed by the task of sifting through the information on the OSHA 
website and other resources, and I do not have the time I need to accomplish 
an adequate job of performing safety research in addition to my usual 
histology and managerial duties.  In order to strengthen our case for the 
substantial funding we will need to install proper building and laboratory=20
ventilation, proper chemical storage, and quite a few other safety measures, 
I would like to furnish the administration with specific laws or regulations 
requiring us to take these measures.  If we can prove that we are legally 
required to meet certain standards, we have a much better chance of obtaining 
the necessary funds.
     Thank you in advance for all of your help in this vital matter!

Very truly yours,

Kimberly Atkin HT (ASCP)

Histology Laboratory Supervisor
Angell Memorial Animal Hospital
350 South Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02130

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