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HSE issues improvement notices to IAH in UK

31 May 2011

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has taken action against the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), based in Pirbright, Surrey, UK for incidents involving infectious material. The IAH was at the centre of an incident during the foot-and-mouth outbreak four years ago and since then has invested £30m in facility improvements and new infrastructure developments, with a further £100m+ investment underway for completion in 2014.

The HSE has issued two ‘improvement notices’ to the IAH following incidents earlier this year. 
The first related to a problem with the incinerator at the IAH's Pirbright Laboratory in February. This involved the leakage of a small amount of waste liquid within the incinerator room. Staff took immediate corrective action, confirmed that the liquid did not contain virus and promptly informed the HSE. The HSE said it took appropriate action to make sure that the IAH addressed ‘underlying failings in management arrangements for maintenance of the incinerator’. In a joint statement with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the IAH said: ‘The IAH has reviewed its procedures in light of this experience to prevent any reoccurrence. The HSE has now confirmed that it is satisfied with these actions and the improvement notice that was issued has been closed’. The second notice related to the cracking of a flask containing the foot-and-mouth disease virus discovered during defrosting within a Class II MBSC Safety Cabinet within a bio secure laboratory. The IAH said no virus escaped to the outside world and there was no risk that it would do so. ‘The IAH and HSE are currently discussing the issues around the second incident and therefore no further comment can be made at this time,’ the institute added. An HSE spokesperson told Manufacturing Chemist: ‘HSE can confirm that two improvement notices have been issued, one of which has been complied with and one of which has been appealed. While the appeal is being heard, HSE is not able to comment on the content of the appealed notice.’

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