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WHO Launches Risk Assessment Tool for Laboratory Workers

Written by : Jayati Dubey

March 12, 2024

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RAST is not intended to replace comprehensive manual risk assessments but as a supplementary tool, offering advice on suitable risk control measures.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced the Risk Assessment Tool (RAST) for Biosafety and Laboratory Biosecurity, providing a valuable resource for laboratory workers engaged in high-risk environments.

Recognizing the heightened vulnerability of laboratory workers, who may be up to 1,000 times more susceptible to infections than the general population, the RAST app is designed to enhance risk assessment and improve adherence to biosafety practices.

Laboratory settings, whether in research, diagnostics, or fieldwork, pose unique challenges and risks to workers. The WHO's RAST app claims to address this vulnerability by offering a logic-based and sophisticated tool for conducting comprehensive risk assessments.

Unlike many biosafety and biorisk assessment apps that primarily provide information, RAST is capable of performing complex risk calculations.

The app is intended to enhance understanding of hazards and risks, fostering a culture of meticulous risk assessment and adherence to biological safety practices among laboratory staff.

Key Features

RAST claims to distinguish itself by being a logic-based app capable of handling intricate risk calculations. It guides users in collecting information about hazards associated with their work, categorizing settings into research laboratories, diagnostics laboratories, or fieldwork scenarios.

As per WHO, the RAST app is aligned with the risk- and evidence-based approach outlined in the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual (LBM4). It focuses explicitly on the initial steps of risk assessment: gathering information and evaluating risks.

Further, the app is not intended to replace comprehensive manual risk assessments but rather to serve as a supplementary tool, offering advice on suitable risk control measures.

Advisory Nature & Regional Adaptation

While the RAST app provides valuable insights, it is essential to note that risk control measures can vary between regions. WHO recommends utilizing RAST as an advisory when considering suitable risk control measures.

For a more comprehensive assessment, users are encouraged to perform a complete manual risk assessment following the principles outlined in LBM4 or any other suitable risk assessment approach.

The RAST app is available for download on both Android and iOS platforms. Its user-friendly interface and logic-based functionalities make it a practical tool for laboratory professionals seeking to enhance safety protocols and mitigate risks associated with their work.

The WHO's Risk Assessment Tool represents a significant step forward in promoting biosafety and laboratory biosecurity.

Moreover, by providing a sophisticated yet accessible app for risk assessment, the WHO aims to contribute to a safer working environment for laboratory personnel worldwide.

As the global community continues to navigate health challenges, tools like RAST play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of those on the frontlines of scientific research and diagnostics.

In another development, last month, in line with one of the three priority areas set during India's G20 presidency in 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) virtually launched the Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH).

The GIDH serves as a platform designed for the global exchange of knowledge and digital health products among countries. At the launch event, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and India's representative to the UN, Arindam Bagchi, addressed the gathering.


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