By Maureen Ellis, Executive Director, IFBA
The International Federation of Biosafety Associations is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Nuaire Inc. to strengthen global laboratory biosafety. Both organizations share similar goals of providing safe, practical and sustainable solutions for biological safety cabinets in all areas of the world. Also driving our organizations is not only the provision of high quality equipment, but a commitment to the ongoing training and servicing to ensure that biological safety cabinets are used properly and sustained over the long term.
Risk assessment in human and animal health diagnostic laboratories is a fundamental process to identify potential hazards and specify practices and procedure that will minimize or eliminate exposure to those hazards. The use of biological safety cabinets (BSCs) presents one avenue for mitigating hazards associated with infectious biologicals and aerosols. Unfortunately, and far too often, personnel are not adquately trained in the proper selection, installation, use and ongoing maintenance of BSCs. Results of a recent survey conducted by the Asia-Pacific Biosafety Association highlighted that many BSCs were below an acceptable level of functionality (e.g. 30% of Class II biological safety cabinets tested were poorly designed, installed incorrectly, not certified, or being operated incorrectly). The IFBA and Nuaire are working together to find simple, safe and workable solutions to improve the situation in South East Asia, Africa and other regions of the world. Towards this end, we are excited that Nuaire has joined the IFBA’s Biocontainment Engineering Working Group (BEWG) to address a lack of trained and qualified biocontainment engineers who can install and maintain BSCs in a cost-effective and practical manner that is applicable to local conditions around the world (the BEWG is Co-Chaired by Canada and Uganda).
Educating laboratory technicians, scientists and maintenance personnel about BSCs as a primary means of containment for working safely with infectious organisms is another key aspect of our new collaboration. For many years NuAire has been developing and delivering training designed to provide our global community with the knowledge, experience and confidence needed to understand and effectively operate and maintain BSCs. We are pleased that Nuaire will soon be releasing an updated version of their interactive learning guide “Working Safely in Your Biological Safety Cabinet” that will be available online at www.nuaire.com.
For those who are not familiar with Nuaire, the company was established early in the 1970s when it was awarded a contract to design and manufacture the first modern day BSC to meet with the US NIH specification entitled “Laminar Flow Biological Safety Cabinet”. Since that time, Nuaire has grown substantially and manufactures a wide range of BSCs and other complimenatry laboratory products that are distributed worldwide. The company also develops and distributes education tools and technical bulletins designed to assist in understanding the different functions and safe operation of the BSC.
Providing our global biosafety community with the appropriate equipment, tools and knowledge they need to work in a safe environment is a key activity for the IFBA and its membership.We recognize however that widespread and lasting results can only be realized by harnessing the power of multiple stakeholders. No individual sector – government, NGO, or business – can make a big a difference alone as we can make by working together. Collaborating with Nuaire will enable us to accomplish our greatest successes in the safe and sustainable use of biological safety cabinets worldwide.