Biological Hazards

Biological hazards are organic substances or micro-organisms that pose a threat to the health of humans and other living organisms.  They also include toxins that are produced by organisms.

Examples of biological hazards include:

  • pathogenic bacteria
  • viruses
  • fungi
  • parasites

Biological hazards can pose risks for workers in a variety of ways.  People working with micro-organisms (for example, in laboratories) are at a higher risk of exposure.

Other examples of work activities that can bring people into contact with biological hazards are:

  • working with animals
  • working with people who might be infectious
  • handling waste materials
  • working in an environment or with equipment that could be contaminated

Examples of common occupational infections that can arise from these activities include:

  • anthrax (natural host – farm animals)
  • hepatitis B and C (natural host – humans)
  • leptospirosis – weil’s disease (natural host – rodents)