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A9.13: Main page

Biosafety Policy

1. Definitions

Biosafety describes the containment principles, technologies and practices that are implemented to prevent the unintentional exposure to human, animal and plant pathogens and toxins or their accidental release.

Laboratory Biosecurity describes the protection, control and accountability for both harmful (including pathogens and biological toxins) and valuable biological materials within research sites in order to prevent their unauthorised access, loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release.

Biosecurity, other than laboratory biosecurity, describes the combination of measures to prevent unintentional spread of disease causing agents and alien species in the environment. It involves a number of measures and protocols designed to prevent disease causing agents from entering or leaving a property and being spread.

Biorisk – the probability that a particular adverse event (i.e. accidental infection or unauthorised access, loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release) leading to harm will occur.

For the purposes of clarity BBSRC will use the single term Biosafety in this policy, to cover all of the areas defined.

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2. Aims of the policy

The aims of this policy are to ensure that standards of Biosafety within BBSRC property are fully compliant with any applicable laws and Statutory Regulations and to minimise the risk of pathogens or biological toxins entering and leaving BBSRC property, to provide biosafety for academically or commercially valuable biological materials and to safeguard the Health and Safety of its staff and all persons that might be affected by work involving biological agents.

Local risk assessments will be carried out where appropriate and biosafety infrastructure (buildings, barriers, equipment, and storage) will be complemented by suitable procedures to manage the risks and both will be managed in a clear and accountable way. We will ensure all our sites fully comply with any legal restrictions and biosafety procedures by inspection and audit.

The level of biological risk will vary across the different programmes in BBSRC Institutes. Institutes will need to dedicate resource proportionate to the biological risk arising from their activities.

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3. Responsibilities

3.1 BBSRC Council and the Chief Executive

They are ultimately responsible for compliance with the relevant legal requirements. The provision of detailed policy and implementation documentation appropriate to each site are devolved to Institute Directors, other senior managers and site managers.

3.2 Institute Directors

Responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring the site is fully compliant with any laws and statutory regulations
  • Ensuring that the regulatory authorities are notified of activities with biological agents as required by legislation
  • Appointing a competent individual in the role of biosafety advisor/officer to inform the Institute on biosafety matters, deal with and monitor the day to-day operation of the institute’s control systems and help with the implementation of a biosafety strategy for the site
  • Ensuring that formal risk assessments are prepared for all activities with biological agents
  • Ensuring that appropriate equipment and resources are made available at the institute to effectively manage the risks arising from biological agents
  • Ensuring suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training is provided to workers

3.3 Managers, Principal Investigators

Responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring safe systems of work and procedures are in place
  • Ensuring their staff are adequately trained to carry out their duties
  • Provide supervision to control the working environment and to maintain safe standards
  • Individuals named on licences e.g. SAPO, are aware of their responsibilities and communicate these to their staff

3.4 Staff, students, contractors and consultants

Staff, students, contractors, consultants and all persons working in or with biosafety areas, including associated mechanical and engineering rooms.

Responsibilities include:

  • Complying with any instructions and biosafety procedures which cover their work. This includes good standards of hygiene, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, working in designated areas, using appropriate equipment and disposing of waste in the specified manner
  • Reporting immediately any malfunction or failure in the safe systems of work and/or biosafety engineering control
  • Reporting to their line manager and/or biosafety advisor or team any incident involving a breach or potential breach of biosafety
  • Familiarising themselves with emergency biosafety procedures put in place by their laboratory, departments and Institute.
  • Ensure risk assessments and SOP’s applicable to an area or activity reflect current practices and any necessary changes are identified and communicated to all concerned

3.5 Tenants and visitors

Have a responsibility to comply with any local biosafety procedures, and report promptly to Site Management any circumstances detrimental to maintaining good standards of biosafety.

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4. Standards of bosafety

We aim to maintain, at all times, the highest standards of biosafety on our property as appropriate, we will do this by:

  • Identifying and controlling all biological risks, thereby keeping staff, animals and crops free from disease and reducing the risk of spreading diseases outside each research facility
  • Preventing the misuse or loss of valuable biological materials

It is accepted that patterns of disease occurrence vary with time and local procedures need to reflect this. We will ensure that each site will have in place biosafety procedures appropriate to the various levels of biological risks that are identified. The procedures should cover:

  • Exclusion of non-notifiable and notifiable human, animal or plant pathogens by quarantine.
  • Containment of any organism materials constituting a risk whilst handles at a BBSRC facility.
  • Containment of pathogens or carriers whilst in transit (to or from sites)
  • Emergency procedures
  • Secure storage and recording of pathogens, biological toxins and valuable biological materials
  • Staff training
  • Waste management including validated disinfection procedures
  • Inspection and audit

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5. Arrangements

5.1 The policy will be implemented through local policies and procedures, as appropriate. Any biosafety issues will be dealt with by relevant local staff and senior management. Local procedures should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure they continue to reflect good laboratory practice, new techniques and the environment in and around the area.

5.2 Local Emergency and Contingency plans should be in place to cover any major incident. Any incident involving exposure to staff or the public, or uncontrolled/unauthorised release, must be brought to the attention of the BBSRC Biosafety Manager immediately and they should be informed about any follow-up-actions and regulatory involvement.

5.3 Every member of staff should be competent in the biosafety relevant for their areas of work, through training and documented procedures. Whenever needed, staff, students and visitors will also be made aware of biorisk assessments so that they understand the biological risks associated with their area of research and the potential value of biological materials that they are working with.

5.4 Infringements of biosafety rules can be a reason for summary dismissal, as failures in biosafety may compromise the entire operation.

5.5 Adherence to the policy will be monitored at each site through the BBSRC Audit process, the results of which will be reported to Audit Board.

5.6 The policy will be reviewed regularly, at BBSRC Biosafety Meetings, to ensure that it remains fully compliant with any changes to the law or Statutory Guidance.

5.7 This policy should be read in conjunction with the following policies, procedures and guidance:

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Last updated 03/11/10
Amendment 110 - November 2010