Chapter 18: Biological hazards

Chapter 18: Biological Hazards

Abstract

Chemical process hazards may be associated with high-consequence outcomes of fire, explosion and/or release of toxic substances. While the management of such hazards is usually the responsibility of those with specialist process safety or chemical expertise, generalist occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals should understand the basic science underpinning the characteristics of such hazards, the mechanisms by which they cause harm, potential consequences – fire, explosion and toxic effect – and common controls. As a companion chapter to OHS Body of Knowledge 12.3 Managing Process Safety, and with reference to the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification of Labelling of Chemicals, this chapter provides information vital for understanding and applying process safety management strategies. Such knowledge will enable generalist OHS professionals to effectively engage with process safety and chemical safety experts, contribute to better hazard control and reduce the risk of catastrophic events.

Keywords: process safety, hazardous substances, chemical, fire, explosion, toxic release, GHS, barrier

First year of publication: 2012
Current Version Pending Review: 2019

Chapter 18: Biological Hazards

Table of contents

1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
2 Extent of the problem …………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
3 Understanding biohazards ………………………………………………………………………………. 12
3.1 The nature of biohazards …………………………………………………………………………… 12
3.2 Classification by type of agent …………………………………………………………………… 13
3.3 Mode of transmission ……………………………………………………………………………….. 14
3.4 Virulence and infectivity ………………………………………………………………………….. 16
4 Occupational factors affecting impact of biohazards ………………………………………….. 16
4.1 Type of occupation ………………………………………………………………………………….. 17
4.2 Location and environment ………………………………………………………………………… 19
5 Legislation and guidance ………………………………………………………………………………… 19
6 Control of biological hazards ………………………………………………………………………….. 20
7 Implications for OHS practice …………………………………………………………………………. 21
8 Summary ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 22
Useful sources ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 22
References: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 22
Appendix 1: Definitions ………………………………………………………………………………………… 26
Appendix 2: Summary of infective agents ……………………………………………………………….. 27

LtCol Geoff Newman-Martin CSM, RFD, BSc, FRACI, CChem, FACTM (RAAMC RETD)
Scientific Adviser Toxinology and Toxicology, Defence Centre for Occupational Health, Department of Defence, Canberra; Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Centre for Military and Veterans’ Health, University of Queensland

Geoff is an organic chemist, toxicologist and toxinologist who has worked in scientific roles in the then Commonwealth Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and the Department of Defence Centre for Occupational Health. He is the author of a three-volume medicoscientific textbook Manual of Envenomation and Poisoning – Australian Fauna and Flora, published by the Defence Publishing Service in 2007. He is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Military and Veterans’ Health, University of Queensland, and an occasional faculty member for the Clinical Toxinology Course conducted by the Department of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide. Geoff was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal in 1998 for his work in toxicology and medical entomology.

Peer reviewers

Dr Robert McCartney MBBS, FAFOEM(RACP)
Occupational Physician, OccMD Pty Ltd President, Australian & New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM)

Dr David Goddard MBBS, BmedSc, DipOccHealth, GCert Higher EdFAFOEM,
RACP Senior Lecturer, Monash Centre for Occupational & Environmental Health (MonCOEH)

The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a conceptual approach which enables it to be applied in different contexts and frameworks.
To optimise its value for education and professional development learning outcomes have been developed for each technical chapter in the Body of Knowledge.
The learning outcomes as described give an indication of what should be the capabilities of an OHS professional; it is up to those developing OHS education programs, OHS professionals planning their CPD or recruiters or employers selecting or developing people for the OHS function to consider the required breadth vs. depth .
Please read the section on using the learning outcomes before delving into the leaning outcomes of the individual chapters.
The numbers against each learning outcome refer to the chapter number of the BOK download page. No learning outcomes have been developed for the chapters considered introductory or underpinning knowledge (that is chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, .13, 14, 15.)