Security Awareness

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Packaging and Shipping Infectious Materials. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Security Awareness

A category A infectious substance is in a form that is capable of causing permanent disability or life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals when exposure to it occurs. Exposure would occur if the substance were released from its protective packaging and a human or animal came into contact with it. Therefore, it is critical that a category A infectious substance does not end up in the hands of an unauthorized individual who may purposely or unknowingly release the substance from its protective packaging and endanger humans or animals.

Being aware of the people that you interact with in the process of packaging and sending category A substances is vital to the safety of the transport and prevention of a health disaster.

An outsider with limited access and system knowledge could constitute a threat, but be aware that insiders could also be a threat, e.g., a disgruntled employee or a person who is angry with his or her supervisor or job or the government. Anyone desiring to do harm could potentially seize the opportunity to steal a hazardous material.

Follow these precautionary procedures:

  • When you are questioned about an infectious substance that you are packaging for shipment, it is important that you know the person that is asking AND that he or she has a need to know. If you do not know the person and if you are not aware that the person needs to know about the substance that is being shipped, do not answer the questions. You could refer him or her to your supervisor.
  • Watch for unusual behavior.
  • Secure the package until it is picked up.
  • Check the identification of the courier who will be picking up the package.
  • Use an intralaboratory chain of custody procedure if the specimens are transferred within the facility or system.
  • Track the package once it has been sent to be sure it arrives safely. Notify the Responsible Official or federal authority if the package does not arrive at its destination.