Occupational Health for Lab Personnel
6.1 Medical Questionnaire
All personnel working with biohazardous material must complete a Medical Questionnaire. The questionnaire must be updated at least annually, and whenever your exposure potential to hazardous material/ activities changes.
The medical questionnaire asks for 1) information on the hazards in your workplace and 2) for general medical history, as would be requested of you in a doctor’s office. Medical history will only be collected on paid individuals or volunteers. For others, only workplace hazard information will be collected.
The medical history portion of the questionnaire is optional. However, in some circumstances (e.g., working with select agents) if you decline to complete the medical history portion, your overall health status cannot be assessed and documented, which would prohibit your access to certain lab settings and activities.
The information you supply on the questionnaire resides in a database at a secure site. It enables the confidential assessment of your workplace risk by licensed occupational health professionals at EHS who review the hazard information. The Virginia Tech occupational health nurse or physician reviews medical information. Based on these reviews, additional services or measures may be recommended or required for your protection.
6.2 Range of Services
Occupational Health services that might be recommended/required for your safety (available at no cost to employees and graduate students) include:
- Preventive vaccines for particular exposure risks (if a vaccine exists for the agent)
- Participation in the Virginia Tech Respiratory Protection Program, including annual pulmonary function testing, respirator selection and fit testing, and training
- A PPE evaluation by EHS
- A medical examination with the Occupational Health physician
- Consultation with the Occupational Health physician.
Things you may receive a consultation on include but are not limited to:
- A potential or known exposure
- Assessment of symptoms of disease possibly caused by a workplace pathogen
- Assessment of an existing health condition that could put you at significant risk at work
- Assessment of your safety in the workplace if you experience a change in health status.
6.3 Personal Health Status Monitoring and Response to Symptoms
Personal health status may impact an individual’s susceptibility to infection, or ability to receive immunizations or prophylactic interventions. Therefore, all laboratory personnel (especially, but not limited to, women of child-bearing age, immunocompromised individuals, persons suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or immunosuppressive therapy) will be provided with information regarding immunocompetency and conditions that may predispose them to infection. Individuals having these or other medical conditions are encouraged to self-identify to EHS or the institution’s health care provider for appropriate confidential counseling and guidance.
All personnel must monitor their daily health status for signs and symptoms of disease consistent with the agents being manipulated in their laboratories. It is highly recommended that personnel familiarize themselves with those signs and symptoms so they can more effectively self-monitor. Self-report any such symptoms to the PI and/or lab manager, and/ or to EHS without delay.
A medical evaluation will be provided for individuals following an exposure incident to potentially infectious material.
Occupational Health records are kept in by the EHS Occupation Health Office for duration of each person’s employment and for at least 30 years after. Research laboratories must not maintain any medical records for personnel.