Biological Safety

University Policy

It is the duty of all employees and students to observe those parts of the University Health and Safety Policy that are relevant to their own work, as well as observing any additional local rules, protocols and procedures on health and safety published at School level.

The Policy of the University with regard to arrangements that must be made before working with hazardous biological materials, including any that are genetically modified, and the precautions to be taken during the course of the work, are outlined in these web pages. The policy is based on the requirements of national legislation and extensive guidance produced by various technical advisory committees, issued in support of the Regulations.

Biological Hazards and the Law

Enacted under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 are designed to protect persons against risks to their health arising from exposure to hazardous substances, including biological hazards (biohazards), associated with their work.

The COSHH Regulations are the principal Regulations covering biological hazards. Particular work activities may fall within the scope of more specific Regulations, also made under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The most notable example is genetic modification (GM) work which is subject to the control of the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations. Some aspects of GM work are also controlled under the Environmental Protection Act and if work involves activities outside containment then the requirements of Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations apply.

Legislation covering both work with biological materials and genetic modification work, applies directly to activities within the University, and is supported by extensive guidance material. Guidance is available on a wide range of subjects with much of it produced by technical advisory committees appointed by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC). Details of the main publications (legislation and guidance) relevant to biosafety are available on the University Health and Safety Service website, via these webpages.

Work with human tissue is subject to further controls under the Human Tissue Act. All queries regarding the Human Tissue Act should be directed to Secretary to the Ethical Advisory Committee.

Links to electronic copies are provided where available.