Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Working with pathogens in laboratories: Protecting your workforce

Protect your workforce

If your business works with pathogens in laboratories and research facilities you must comply with the requirements of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.

What you must do

Use control measures

You must comply with the general duties outlined in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations. Working with pathogens or other biological agents requires attention to the additional provisions in Schedule 3 of the regulations.

HSENI: COSHH

Scotland: Healthy Working Lives: COSHH and hazardous substances

You will need to put in place control measures when working with biological agents. These will depend on the type of biological agent that you are working with. Biological agents are classified according to their ability to infect humans. The classification ranges from Hazard Group (HG) 1, the least harmful, to HG4 the most harmful, including viruses such as Ebola. The classification is explained in the Approved list of biological agents.

Approved list of Biological agents

Notify the HSE or NSENI

The first time you work o your premises with any biological agent classified as being in HG2, HG3 or HG4 you must notify the Health and Safety Executive if you are based in Scotland, or the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland.

You must also provide a notification each time you work with a biological agent classified as being HG3 or HG4 and some that are classed as HG2.

HSE: Guidance notes on Notifications

HSE: Online Notification form

Manage waste safely

Waste materials from your laboratory may contain parts of animals and materials that are classed as animal by-products.

Animal by-products that have been used in research activities, or which could have been infected during experiments must be treated as Category 1 (high risk) animal by-products.

Category 1 material must be disposed of by:

  • direct incineration
  • rendering - followed by incineration or landfill.

You can find out about dealing with animal by-products in our guidance:

Animal By-products

Further information

The HSE website contains information on all aspects of biosafety, including sections covering:

  • Working with animal and human pathogens
  • Infections at work
  • Information on specific infections, eg influenza or anthrax
  • The Law relating to this area of work

HSE: Biosafety and microbiological containment

In this Guideline

Working with pathogens in laboratories: Protecting your workforce

Environmental News Blog

  • A day with Hydrology, SEPA's hydrometry unit is responsible for around 400 gauging stations and 350 rainfall monitoring sites. River gauging stations are important as they allow river levels to be monitored so flood events can be predicted and flood warnings sent out.

  • Brewing and Distilling Technical Drop-in Day: Waste, Water, Energy, Brewing and Distilling is booming due to high demand for quality Scottish beers and spirits. All this growth is also leading to a boom in food waste, energy and water use.

NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!

Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms