BioPath is the term utilized to describe the Biohazards Medical Monitoring Program for the University of Florida Occupational Medicine team. BioPath provides occupational health oversight for employees, students, visitors, and volunteers in instances where it has been determined that such oversight is necessary due to the potential for exposure to biohazards. The purpose of the program is to prevent illness and injury from biohazards by doing the following.
- Identifying and providing assistance, as appropriate, in management of medical conditions that may place an individual at an increased risk of adverse health effects from their work with biohazardous agents
- Conducting baseline, periodic, exit, or problem-specific health assessments or testing
- Educating individuals about their risks, how to minimize the risk(s) and protect their health
- Providing preventative vaccines as appropriate
- Establishing medical clearances for personal protective equipment when required
The need for program participation is determined by the Biosafety Office in consultation with the UF Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and the Student Health Care Center (SHCC) Occupational Medicine team. A medical monitoring program for biohazards, based on underlying assessments of possible risk, is mandated by several regulatory agencies (e.g. OSHA, NIH, AAALAC, etc.) and is therefore part of UF’s compliance obligations.
For positions in which participation in the Biohazards Medical Monitoring Program is deemed to be appropriate, (generally required for all those working with risk group 3 agents in a BSL3 laboratory, as well as certain risk group 2 agents working in a BSL2+ and BSL-3 laboratory), initial medical screening should be completed before starting activities with potential for biohazard exposure. This offers the best health protection and provides the Occupational Medicine Service providers with a baseline health assessment.
Volunteers or visitors with potential exposure to biohazards are expected to meet the same requirements as UF employees or students, either through participation in UF’s program or by providing evidence to the UF Student Health Care Center of coverage under their own institution’s occupational medicine program.
A separate program exists for those working with animals or who will be working in proximity to animals, called the Animal Contact Medical Monitoring Program.
It is the responsibility of the supervisor or Principal Investigator to ensure that persons requiring participation in the biohazard medical monitoring program do so and complete and submit the forms. The supervisor acknowledges and signs the enrollment (authorization) form.
The BioPath program is comprised of a number of different component and/or services; participation in these is determined by individual risk assessment(s). The components/services include:
- Health Assessment
- Serum Banking
- Respiratory Protection Clearance
- Medical Testing
Individuals requiring these services should identify to the Student Health Care Center medical provider, the type of work they do, what biohazards are involved, their work environment, their health status, (including pre-existing conditions such as immune system deficits or pregnancy), their participation in any other occupational medicine program and any questions or concerns they have about their health and work-related exposures. The medical assessment questionnaire assists in capturing this information.
The policy includes detailed instructions and forms that are to be used to enroll in BioPath.