Biological Safety Management

Biological hazards are organic substances that present a threat to the health of people and other living organisms. Types of biological hazards include viruses, bacteria, spores, fungi and bio-active substances.

Potential exposure to infection and disease can occur through the following routes.

  • Health workers exposed to contact with human bodily matter, such as blood, tissue, saliva, mucus, urine and faeces.
  • Laboratory workers exposed to bacteria, fungi and viruses
  • Animal work with live animals or animal products, such as blood, tissue, milk and eggs.
  • Workers exposed to wastewater and sewerage, plant materials, organic dusts and food.
  • Office workers exposed to moulds and yeasts in workplaces with air conditioning systems and high humidity.

The University has safety management systems in place to protect its workers from hazards and this includes the potential exposure to biological hazards in the teaching and research environments.

The 4 main steps in the hazard management process are:

  • Identify the biological hazard and regulatory requirements
  • Assess the risks from the biological hazard and the work process
  • Identify the containment level facility and the containment controls based on the risk
  • Obtain approval for use of the facility and the biological hazard as applicable

Risk control measures for work with biological hazards include vaccinations, biosafety cabinets, risk assessments, training, and personal protective equipment. All work with biological hazards must be risk assessed on the Risk Assessment Template prior to commencement and reviewed every 3 years.

All work with genetically modified organisms and Risk Group 2 and above infectious agents require approval from the Institutional Biosafety Committee prior to commencing use. Please see the Biosafety webpage.

Please log all incidents via the online incident reporting system UniSAfe. Serious illnesses where work is a significant contributing factor are reportable to SafeWork SA. Examples include infections relating to COVID-19, working with micro-organisms, providing treatment or care to a person, contact with human blood or body substances, and handling or contact with animal or animal products.

References and resources