Biological safety (including GM organisms)


Biological safety (including GM organisms)

  • The University is committed to preventing or adequately controlling exposure to hazardous biological agents
  • This policy applies to all work activities involving the handling, use, transport and storage of biological agents

The purpose of managing our activities involving biological agents (or materials that may contain them) is to prevent or minimise risks to human health and the environment and to set appropriate standards for control of those risks.

The University's policy and procedures are based on the requirements of national legislation and extensive guidance produced by various expert technical advisory committees issued in support of the Regulations. The management of biological agents at the University is detailed in the University Management Procedure (PDF , 1,054kb)  The information in this management document is reproduced for these web pages in more easily accessible subject headings as listed below:

Biological agents

What are biological agents?

Biological agents include any microorganism, cell culture, or human endoparasite that may cause infection, allergy, toxicity or otherwise cause a hazard to human health or the environment.

Biological agents (including genetically modified organisms) may be encountered in laboratories where:

  • microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, protozoa and some helminths) are intentionally cultured or used for teaching, research or for diagnostic purposes
  • cell cultures and samples of body tissues or fluids (human or animal origin) are handled
  • laboratory animals are kept
  • hazardous plants or plant materials are grown or used

Key requirements

Summary of key requirements

  • A formal Risk Assessment must be prepared for all work with hazardous (including all in Hazard Group 2 organisms or above) biological agents or materials that may contain them
  • A formal Risk Assessment must be prepared for all GM work activities (includes GM microorganisms / plants / animals)
  • A written code of practice (Local Rules) must be prepared for work with hazardous biological agents (including all work with Hazard Group 2 organisms and above) and brought to the attention of those affected by the work
  • Formal approval by the Departmental Safety Advisor (Biological Sciences) or the Biological Agents Safety Committee is required for all work activities involving hazardous biological agents (typically all GM activities and those activities using biological agents in hazard group 2 and above).
  • All workers to receive appropriate information, instruction and training for their work activity before working with hazardous biological agents as arranged by the supervisor in charge of the work activity
  • All GM Workers to attend the Safety Awareness for GM Workers training.
  • Formal training records required for all Containment Level 3 (CL3) workers.
  • Registration required for all CL3 workers
  • Undergraduate students are not permitted to work at CL3
  • Health surveillance to be provided where appropriate