Workplace Standards for Biotech Industry Questioned

Biotechnology labs involve a growing number of risks for employees and possible injury.  With advances in science and technology, many critics say the biotechnology industry has far too little regulations preventing hazardous conditions.  These beliefs are confirmed by the head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s opinion that their 20th-century standards have not caught up to the 21st-century reality of the biotech industry.

“Worker safety cannot be sacrificed on the alter of innovation.  We have inadequate standards for workers exposed to infectious materials” stated David Michaels, director of OSHA.

In order to try and change this, OSHA began acquiring information on the negative effects working with infectious agents.  From 1979-2004, there have been nearly 1,500 symptom causing infections in biotech laboratories, 36 of which resulted in death.  Around half of these cases occurred in research laboratories, and the other half in diagnostic laboratories.

In a recent case, former microbiologist Becky McClain working at the pharmaceutical research center for Pfizer, sued the company after suffering from temporary paralysis due to infection from one of their genetically engineered viruses.  Ms. McClain questioned the company’s safety conditions and claims this as the reason for her eventual firing.  Last month, the jury supported her fight and awarded her $1.37 million.

If you or someone you know has suffered due to workplace injury or conditions please contact the Raleigh workplace injury attorneys at Scudder & Hendrick, PLLC  by calling 919-851-3311.