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Researcher Sustained Laceration to Leg and Was Exposed to a Bloodborne Pathogen

What Happened?

A researcher was in the process of harvesting bone marrow from mice, which had received transplants of primary human cells from umbilical cord blood 5 months prior to the incident. The researcher was seated at the lab bench wearing his lab coat while performing the marrow harvest. Having cut off the femur, the researcher placed the scissors very close to the edge of the bench. Possibly due to an incautious movement, the scissors fell off the bench, penetrating the researcher’s leg. The lab coat had formed a gap exposing the pants. The researcher immediately went to the restroom, removed his pants and squeezed the wound site to promote bleeding. He then wiped the wound site with an alcohol pad, applied an adhesive bandage and placed his pants back on. The researcher reported the incident to his supervisor, who advised him to seek medical care from the Occupational Health and Safety Facility. The researcher, however, first completed his experiment before seeking medical care, approximately 2.5 hours after the incident. He reported the incidence to the EH&S hotline the same day.

What Was The Cause?

Inattention to the task, i.e., careless placement of a sharp object, caused this accident.

What Corrective Actions Were Taken?

  1. Review experimental procedure and update SOP if necessary; never place sharp objects close to the edge of the working space
  2. Review the exposure control plan
  3. Provide refresher training to all lab members on the modified/updated SOP.

How Can Incidents Like This Be Prevented?

  • Always keep sharp objects away from edges and away from you
  • Be aware of body mechanics when working with sharp objects




Exposure control plan:

  1. Express wound immediately for at least 5 min under running water and clean extensively with soap; for injuries to the leg, bring a step stool to access the faucet.
  2. For splashes to eyes, nose, mouth rinse for at least 15 min at eyewash station.
  3. Obtain medical care within 2 hours of exposure.
  4. Review HBV vaccination.
  5. Report the incident to your supervisor.


Bloodborne Pathogens

  • Hepatitis B (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C (HCV)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)