The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations defines a “biological agent” as “micro-organisms, including those which have been genetically modified, cell cultures and human endoparasites, which may be able to provoke any infection, allergy or toxicity…”.
Biological agents are classified into 4 risk groups according to their level of risk of infection. A group 3 biological agent is one which can “can cause severe human disease and presents a serious hazard to employees and that may present a risk of spreading to the community, though there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available”.
In the event of a spillage or leak of a group 3 biological agent, there is a clearly a potential risk of harm to staff, but also to others present in the facility, and the wider community.
In a facility which has already implemented good biohazard management practices, then in the event of a spillage of a group 3 biological agent there will already be control measures in place to minimise the consequences of such an event. These measures correspond with Containment Level 3 (CL3) in the Code of Practice. For example:
In regard to the procedure for dealing with a spillage of a biological agent, the following actions should occur:
Following the incident, the relevant risk assessment should also be reviewed and updated if required.
CMSE Consultancy is a leading provider of professional services for biosafety in the workplace, including biosafety consultancy and biosafety awareness training.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations it is the duty of every employer to assess the risks arising from the use or presence of biological agents in the workplace and in determining adequate precautions or control measures to safeguard health and safety.
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