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Hazardous Biological Agents Stick to either the one or the other

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

What to look out for in Hazardous Biological Agents that may produce adverse health effects in individuals when exposed to sufficient quantities.


Hazardous Chemical Substances refers to any toxic, harmful, corrosive, irritant of asphyxiant substance or, a mixture of substances, that may produce adverse health effects in individuals when exposed to sufficient quantities.




Hazardous biological agents, as defined under the Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents 2001, OHSAct (85 of 1993), means any micro-organism, cell culture or human endoparasite, including any which have been genetically modified, which may cause an infection, allergy or toxicity, or otherwise, create a hazard to human health.

All work areas fall at risk to expose employees to Hazardous Biological Agents, some obviously more than others!



Here are some typical industries that have an increased risk of being a source of exposure:

  • Hospitals

  • Food Processing industries

  • Food preparation areas

  • Abattoirs

  • Medical Research Laboratories

  • Laboratories

  • Pharmaceutical Companies

  • Sewage treatment plants

  • Farming

  • Veterinary Hospitals and Clinics


HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM BIOHAZARDS IN THE WORKPLACE?

You can take several precautions to protect yourself from biohazards in the workplace. Some of these include:

  • Treating each situation as potentially dangerous. Don’t ever assume a situation involving biohazards will be fine to respond to without proper precautions.

  • Washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap.

  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) when responding to situations involving biohazards. These can include gloves, facemasks and shields, respirators, aprons, special protective eyewear, and full body gowns or suits.

  • Utilizing proper disposal methods including labelled biohazard bags or containers.

  • Reporting all incidents to your supervisor.


WORKPLACE BIOHAZARDS – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

In addition to taking personal measures for protection, several agencies exist to protect employees and regulate risk exposure, including The Centre for Disease Control (CDC), National Department of Health (NDOH) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Under the regulations of these agencies, there are specific protocols that an employer must follow to protect workers from workplace biohazard exposure.


Some of these include:

  • Mandatory Hepatitis B vaccinations, paid for by your employer

  • Personal protective equipment and respirators

  • Annual PPE, and Hazcom training

  • An established Exposure Control Plan


When dealing with workplace biohazards, any potential contact should be treated with the utmost care to avoid risk and harm to employees. As a result, it is often best to call a bioremediation company for help with biohazards clean-up.


Most exposed occupations may include those in food production, agriculture, farming, hospitals and laboratories, the municipality (refuse and sewage workers) and office buildings from wallpapers, carpets, damp buildings and ventilation systems.


Compliance Requirements:

  • Occupational Health, and Safety Act, Act No. 85 of 1993


Sampling Methodology:

  • Occupational Health, and Safety Act, Act No. 85 of 1993 (in accordance with Reg. 7 of the Hazardous Biological Agent Regulations, 2001)

  • NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM)

  • NIOSH Occupational Exposure Sampling Strategy Manual (OESSM)


Legal References:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act No 85 of 1993

  • Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations, 2001

  • NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM)

  • NIOSH Occupational Exposure Sampling Strategy Manual (OESSM)


View Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents.

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