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)