What is biosafety?
Biosafety refers to principles, technology and practices that are implemented to prevent unintentional exposure to biological agents and toxins, or their accidental release. Biological agents are microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses and prions), which may affect humans, plants, and terrestrial and aquatic animals. Microorganisms may also produce small molecules (toxins) which account for their pathogenicity.
The general approach when working with microorganisms is to regard them as potential pathogens and handle them using standard microbiological precautions.
Approximately 20% of laboratory-acquired infections follow known accidents with infectious material (such as needle-stick injuries), with the remaining 80% generally attributed to the inhalation of aerosols generated from common activities such as homogenising, vortexing and centrifuging. It is important to take these infection pathways into account when completing a risk assessment involving the use of microorganisms.
Sam Poynter, Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer
The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is the University authoritative body regarding gene technology, biosecurity-regulated materials and biologically-hazardous materials.