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Containment Standards for Facilities Handling Plant Pests
4.0 Operational practices in containment facilities

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4.1 PPC-1 practices Comply with all conditions stipulated on Permits to Import. Render all organisms non-viable prior to disposal. Employ good laboratory practices to prevent the escape of pests. Keep doors closed to reduce the potential movement of plant pests. Eating, chewing gum, drinking, smoking, storing of food and utensils, storing of personal belongings, applying cosmetics, and inserting or removing contact lenses should not occur in the containment zone. The wearing of contact lenses is recommended only when other forms of corrective eyewear are not suitable. Long hair is to be tied back or restrained so that it cannot come into contact with hands, specimens, containers or equipment in view of the potential for disseminating pests. Treat all pests and materials in a containment zone in accordance with the highest containment requirement for that area (e.g. if PPC-1 and PPC-2 pests are in the same room, PPC-2 practices must be followed). All pests and material that is infested or suspected of being infested with a pest must be moved or transported in containers that are secure, leak-proof and not easily broken, in order to prevent the accidental release or escape of a pest. The containers may only be opened within a facility that provides the appropriate containment level for the pest in question. Keep all work areas within a containment zone, including dedicated clerical work stations, clean and tidy. Storage of materials should be minimized, and paperwork should be done outside of containment zones if this presents a risk of disseminating pests. Keep workplace exposure to any plant pest at the lowest practical level and avoid the generation of aerosols when manipulating pests or inoculating plants. Cultures are to be stored in sealed, preferably break-resistant, containers such as screw-top vials. Cultures are to be clearly identified and dated. Where possible, petri dish cultures of sporulating fungi should be sealed with stretch film. Contaminated materials and equipment must be properly cleaned and decontaminated before leaving the facility for servicing or disposal. Render non-viable all unintentionally introduced pests, including those contaminating cultures, as soon as they are detected. Where practical, confine all arthropods in cages or other containers that prevent escape. Where applicable, disinfectants that are effective against the organisms in use must be available at all times when plant pests are handled or stored. Sanitation practices should be implemented when working with plants and plant pests. These practices include:

  • treating all plants and soils as if they are infected/infested;
  • minimizing entry of personnel into laboratory and plant growth areas;
  • providing adequate separation and/or physical barriers between plants infected or infested with different plant pests;
  • washing hands (after removing gloves) before leaving the containment zone, and at any time after handling materials known or suspected to be contaminated with plant pests, if this poses a risk of inadvertently spreading pests;
  • using decontaminated soil, soil-less potting mix or inert growing media, and cleaning up spilled soil or growing medium;
  • watering plants carefully, avoiding soil and water splash, and avoiding touching plants with the hose;
  • avoiding the use of automated watering systems where their use presents a risk of disseminating pests;
  • cleaning and decontaminating work surfaces as appropriate with a suitable disinfectant;
  • disinfecting items such as clippers, pruners and knives during and after use as appropriate to avoid plant-to-plant transfer of pests;
  • cleaning and decontaminating pots, stakes and saucers after use, or using disposables that are decontaminated and discarded after use;
  • surface sterilizing plant material before planting or transferring to tissue culture;
  • maintaining obligate parasites (e.g. viruses, nematodes) in tissue culture plantlets where possible;
  • eliminating unwanted pests by heat or cold therapy, surface sterilization, meristem culture or other suitable means;
  • inspecting for, and removing and destroying, host plants infected or infested with unwanted organisms;
  • using good housekeeping practices to keep the area neat, clean and free of dead plant material and unwanted plants and pests; and
  • using dedicated cleaning equipment (e.g. brooms, mops, garbage cans) within containment zones. Work surfaces that have become permeable (i.e., cracked, chipped, or loose) must be repaired, sealed or replaced. Regularly monitor autoclaves used for decontamination using biological indicators to ensure efficacy (e.g. consider weekly or monthly monitoring, depending on the frequency of use of the autoclave). Monitoring records must be kept for three years. Loss of containment must be reported immediately to the laboratory supervisor and remedied as soon as possible. Written reports of such incidents must be maintained for three years, and the results of incident investigations used for continuing education. Maintain an effective bird, rodent, weed and plant pest control program to prevent entry and eliminate undesired pests from the containment zone. Greenhouse personnel who apply pesticides must be appropriately trained and protected.

4.2 PPC-2 practices

In addition to the practices required for PPC-1 facilities that handle plant pests, the following sections describe the minimum operational practices required for PPC-2 containment facilities.

4.2.1 Access Entry must be restricted to authorized laboratory and maintenance staff and other persons on official business. Entry to PPC-2 arthropod containment zones must be restricted to authorized laboratory staff, maintenance staff and other persons on official business. Access to specific areas within these containment zones shall be granted on an "as needed" basis only.

4.2.2 Documentation A Procedures Manual covering safety and general laboratory and greenhouse operations including entry and exit protocols and cleaning schedules must be available to all staff, and its requirements followed; it must be reviewed and updated regularly. The Procedures Manual may consist of a series of Standard Operating Procedures. An Emergency Response Plan must be available that describes emergency procedures, including those for accidents, fires, chemical spills, air handling failure, BSCs failure, power loss and containment loss. Plans must cover emergency entry/exit procedures, corrective actions and notification of key personnel and government officials. The Laboratory Director or the Director's designate(s) such as supervisors are responsible for:

  • organisms that enter, are held within, or leave the containment zone;
  • compliance with all regulatory requirements;
  • maintenance of SOPs and the Procedures Manuals;
  • compliance with SOPs and the Procedures Manual; and
  • determining who is authorized to work in the facility. Records shall be kept of activities in the facility for three years, including records of all building and equipment maintenance, shipments received, confirmations of pest identification, dates of import, CFIA Permits to Import, associated imported plant material, associated organisms detected, decontamination of packaging materials and transfer of plant pests or organisms to other facilities where authorized by a CFIA inspector. Records shall also be kept of all inoculations or infestations of plant material and the movement of plant material and plant pests into or out of containment. Appropriate signage indicating the nature of the plant pests/organisms being used (i.e. type and containment level) must be posted on the inner entry door to each laboratory. If there are special provisions for entry, the relevant information must be included on the sign; the contact information of the laboratory supervisor or other responsible person(s) must be listed.

4.2.3 Training Personnel working in the containment zone must be trained in, and follow, the Standard Operating Procedures for the area. Trainees must be supervised by a trained staff member. Visitors, maintenance staff, janitorial staff and others must be provided with training and/or supervision commensurate with their anticipated activities in the containment zone.

4.2.4 Personal protective equipment Personnel entering the containment zone may need to wear protective clothing up to and including full coverage protective clothing. All protective clothing must be removed prior to exiting the containment zone. Dedicated or disposable footwear (e.g. rubber boots, shoe covers) should be worn when working with soil or soilborne pests in situations where the floor may be contaminated with infested plant material or soil. Where such footwear is used, it must be removed for reuse or decontamination prior to exiting the containment zone. Where appropriate, BSCs or other primary containment devices are to be used for procedures involving potential allergens and for procedures that involve high concentrations or large volumes of plant pests or their propagules.

4.2.5 Work practices Personnel may not bring unnecessary personal belongings (e.g. hats, coats, purses) into the containment zone if there is a risk that these items could harbour pests on exit, resulting in a loss of containment. Laboratory doors must be kept closed as required by the facility design. To minimize places where plant pests can persist, avoid using containment zones for general storage of items not used in that area. To facilitate minor repairs, a basic tool kit should always be available inside the containment zone. Packages of pests from foreign sources must be opened in a BSCs or a sleeved cage, as appropriate and packaging material must be decontaminated as soon as possible. Where appropriate, footbaths (e.g. trays containing cloth pads soaked in disinfectant) shall be provided in the anteroom of facilities containing soilborne pests, to disinfect footwear, shoe covers or dedicated footwear. If there is a risk of disseminating pests in clothing known to be or suspected of being contaminated, such clothing must be decontaminated (e.g. heat-treated, frozen, autoclaved or soaked in a 5% bleach solution) before laundering. Clothing does not need to be decontaminated if there are laundering facilities within the containment zone and the facilities have been proven to be effective in killing the pests in use. If there is a risk of disseminating pests with the movement of paper, use an electronic communication system to transfer information and data from the containment zone. All contaminated materials, solid or liquid, including soil from soil traps, must be decontaminated using validated methods before disposal or reuse. Wastes should be sterilized in a timely manner and not allowed to accumulate and decay. All liquids potentially contaminated by pests must be decontaminated. Liquids must be collected and treated with steam, heat, chemicals, or other proven and validated treatment technology prior to discharge into sewer or septic systems. Periodic inspections of the containment zone must be made by facility staff to check for faults and deterioration (e.g. deteriorated door seals and brushes, screens or caulking); corrective action must be taken and records kept for three years. Such inspections shall occur at least every six months. Supply and exhaust filters, pre-filters and screens are to be inspected and cleaned or replaced by a designated person on a regular basis. Where applicable, inward directional airflow must be confirmed on a regular basis using a smoke pencil, tape, tissue or other suitable means. An effective and appropriate monitoring system (e.g. insect traps, spore traps, susceptible sentinel host plants) and pest control program should be in place to control undesired pests and to detect escaped pests. Inspect all plant material and insect traps on a regular basis. Remove all debris and dead plant material so that it does not act as a refuge for plant pests. Keep areas surrounding greenhouses free of debris, garbage, compost piles and overhanging shrubs and trees. Where appropriate, staff must examine themselves, or be examined by others, for hitchhiking arthropods prior to exiting the containment zone. Hitchhiking arthropods must be removed or killed before exit.

4.3 PPC-3 practices

All operational practices for PPC-1 and PPC-2 containment facilities apply to PPC-3 facilities. The following sections describe the additional minimum operational practices required in PPC-3 containment facilities.

4.3.1 Access

Entry to the containment zone must be restricted to authorized laboratory staff, maintenance staff and others on official business. Access to specific areas within the containment zone may be granted on an "as needed" basis only.

4.3.2 Documentation The Laboratory Director (LD) or the Director's designate is responsible for all organisms that enter, are held within, or leave the facility; for compliance with all regulatory requirements, including permit requirements; for maintenance of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual; for ensuring compliance with the SOP manual; and for determining who is authorized to work in the facility. The Laboratory Director or designate is responsible for the SOP manual that includes procedures specific to the operation of the facility. It must be kept current, and employees must certify that they have understood and agree to abide by relevant SOPs. The SOP manual must include policies and procedures for the following:

  • entry of authorized personnel;
  • receipt of exotic material;
  • organism handling;
  • waste disposal;
  • identification of received pests;
  • record keeping;
  • housekeeping, cleaning and disinfection;
  • entry, exit and decontamination protocols for equipment, samples, and solid and liquid waste;
  • cleaning of soil traps and disposing of contents;
  • monitoring of visitors;
  • monitoring for pest escapes;
  • emergency contacts;
  • operation, repair and maintenance of air handing systems;
  • operation, repair and maintenance of waste treatment systems;
  • emergency repair procedures;
  • training of staff;
  • use of equipment; and
  • inoculation of plants. The above SOPs are to be supplemented with SOPs specific to the nature of the work being conducted and to each project or activity as appropriate. A log book of all people entering and leaving the facility must be maintained and kept for three years.

4.3.3 Training Personnel entering the containment zone must have completed training in the procedures specific to the containment zone and must show evidence of having understood the training; training must be documented and signed by the employee and supervisor. Personnel must demonstrate proficiency in appropriate practices (SOPs) and techniques. Personnel working in the containment zone must possess knowledge of the physical operation and design of the facility (e.g. air pressure gradients between zones, directional airflow patterns, alarm signals for air pressure failure, and the containment perimeter).

4.3.4 Personal protective equipment Personnel entering the containment zone must remove street clothing, jewellery, etc., and change into dedicated laboratory clothing and shoes; dedicated laboratory clothing and shoes must be removed in a manner that minimizes the potential transfer of pests from potentially contaminated laboratory clothing before leaving the containment zone. The use of full coverage protective clothing (i.e. completely covering all street clothing and hair) may be an acceptable alternative. Personnel must wash their face and hands prior to exiting the containment zone. In the event of life-threatening emergencies, personal health and safety are a priority. Exit protocols must have been established in advance whereby routine procedures may be bypassed while maintaining pest containment as much as possible.

4.3.5 Work practices Personnel entering a containment zone should make an effort to bring all materials they will need with them; if something has been forgotten, established traffic patterns must still be adhered to (i.e. either telephone for someone to bring it in, or exit using proper protocols). If aerosol exposure presents a risk of pest escape, protocols must be in place to determine whether showering is required on exit from the containment zone. Smoke testing (i.e. using a smoke pencil held at the door between the anteroom and the containment zone, and other doors as required) is to be done periodically by staff to verify inward directional airflow. A containment check must always be performed before entering the containment zone (i.e. verify correct readings on the pressure monitoring device(s)). Routine cleaning must be done by personnel who use the containment zone, or by other personnel specifically trained for this task, in order to minimize the number of people exposed to the pests under containment and thus the possibility of pest escape. The containment zone must be kept locked and all doors must remain closed when not in use. Work with plant pests in open vessels on open benches must be kept to a minimum. Viable plant pests must be either stored inside the containment zone, or kept in leak-proof containers which are placed in locked storage located outside of the containment zone. Drain traps must be kept filled with water or disinfectant (e.g. through regular sink usage, automatic primers or by filling traps in areas that are not frequently used). Samples and supplies may be carried into the containment zone or passed in through a pass-box system with interlocking doors. If the barrier autoclave is used to pass materials into the laboratory, the autoclave must have been cycled before the outer "clean side" door is opened. A pass-box may be used to remove non-viable organisms and DNA, along with decontaminated materials, and equipment that cannot withstand autoclaving from the containment zone. Centrifugation of infectious materials must be carried out in closed containers. The use of sealed centrifuge tubes inside sealed cups is recommended and these should be opened within a BSC. Plants or arthropods that have been experimentally infected or infested must remain in the containment zone or be decontaminated or disinfected prior to removal or disposal. All contaminated material (e.g. glassware, laboratory clothing, waste material) must be decontaminated before cleaning, reuse or disposal. Waste must be decontaminated at the containment barrier before disposal; both doors of a pass-through sterilizer may not be opened simultaneously. Use of a single-door autoclave may be acceptable, based on the results of a risk assessment. CFIA authorities must be notified of any planned structural or containment changes to the facility.

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