Biological and GM Safety

Health & Safety, animal health, plant health and environmental legislation require the university to have effective controls in place to protect people and the environment against the risks.

Biological COSHH risk assessment must be completed prior to the possession or use of any biological agent. Factors such as hazard group, containment level and who or what might be harmed must be taken into consideration when writing the risk assessment. This must be completed by competent persons with consultation with researches and safety advisors where applicable.

Pathogens and Toxins

  • The possession or use of certain pathogens and toxins are controlled under health and safety, animal health, plant health, environmental and terrorism legislation and requires registration with the Institute and with SEPS.
  • The principle investigator has the primary responsibility for work with their pathogens and toxins.
  • Register your pathogens, pathogen infected materials and toxins please
  • Once registration is completed, a copy should be sent to the principle investigator, safety coordinator and university biological safety advisor.


Working with Human Material

  • Staff working with such materials should be familiar with the recommendations contained in the HSAC and ACDP guidance documents. A Risk Assessment of the health risks before starting work with Human blood, tissue and other specimens must be completed and given to the PI for signature and approval. This risk assessment must be specific for the procedures involved in the work and take account of the nature and source of the samples to be handled.
  • All staff and students planning to work in any laboratory that uses human derived material (blood samples, urine samples, primary cells in tissue culture, etc.) are strongly advised to undergo a Hep B immunisation programme.
    Please contact Carol-Anne Smith Email: Ext: 2085 for further information.
  • For further information on working with human material please click here.

GM Risk Assessment

  • Staff are reminded that ALL work involving Genetically Modified Organisms must, by law, be registered with and approved by the appropriate GM Safety Committee within the University. Please contact _____ to make sure your GMOs are registered.
  • To ensure that the University meets its legal obligations, please check your records and ensure that all current work involving GMOs is covered by an up-to-date registration.
  • A GM risk assessment must be completed prior to the possession or use of genetically modified organisms. Principal investigators are responsible for ensuring that the risk assessment and controls are carried out, adequate for the work, regularly monitored and that the assessment and controls are reviewed and revised. There is a legal requirement for GM risk assessments to be reviewed and advised on by a Genetic Modification Safety Committee (GMSC).
  • Refer to the SEPS website and HSE website for further information.

Accidents with Biological Hazards

  • All spillages must be reported using an Injury or Dangerous Occurrence form even when no personal injury is involved.
  • If hands become contaminated, they should then be washed using a suitable disinfectant before putting on disposable gloves in order to clean up.
  • A contaminated laboratory coat must be removed to be autoclaved if practicable, or disinfected immediately and autoclaved later. A fresh laundered coat should be put on.
  • Any contaminated personal clothing must also be removed and treated in the same way.
  • If a tube, culture bottle, or flask is broken, the area should be flooded with use a suitable disinfectant to kill the organism disinfectant immediately which should be allowed to act for 30-60 minutes after which the area should be cleaned up with water and allowed to dry.
  • Broken glass should never be picked up with the fingers. Forceps or pan and brush should always be used and these should be disinfected after use.
  • If bacterial cultures are spilt on the bench or floor, the nearest window must be opened and 10 minutes allowed for the aerosol and droplets to disperse. Work must be stopped in the area and a warning noticed posted. The spilt material should then be mopped up with suitable disinfectant which should be allowed to act for 30-60 minutes, after which time the area should be cleaned up with water and allowed to dry. The hands should then be washed with a suitable skin disinfectant.