Safety Rules Lag In Biotech Industry
The New York Times reports that safety rules for biotechnology workers sometimes expose them to dangerous pathogens. "Whether handling deadly pathogens for biowarfare research, harnessing viruses to do humankind's bidding or genetically transforming cells to give them powers not found in nature, the estimated 232,000 employees in the nation's most sophisticated biotechnology labs work amid imponderable hazards. And some critics say the modern biolab often has fewer federal safety regulations than a typical blue-collar factory."
But "[e]arlier this month, as a first step toward possible new regulations, the [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] issued a sweeping request for information on occupational risks from infectious agents, and for suggestions on how best to reduce them. The focus is mainly on hospital and other health care workers, but any rules are expected to also cover industry laboratory workers" (Pollack and Wilson, 5/27).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.