Every workplace is filled with biological hazards, and as an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your employees are protected from these dangers. Unfortunately, without proper knowledge and safety solutions, determining and eliminating these hazards can be hard.
If left unchecked, biological hazards can seriously threaten your entire company. That’s why it’s worth delving into this topic and understanding what biological hazards are, some common examples, and how you can create a safe workplace for your employees.
This article will discuss that and more. So, if you’re here to learn about biological hazards, you’ve come to the right place!
What are Biological Hazards?
Biological hazards, or biohazards, are agents that can cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment. It pertains to any biological materials, including plants, animals and their by-products, or microorganisms that threaten the health of humans and animals.
These agents can be in the form of a virus, bacteria, prion, or parasite. They can be found in nature, or they can be created in a lab. It’s important to handle potential biohazards with extreme caution as they can potentially cause harm that can be fatal in certain circumstances.
Since biohazards can be found in the workplace, it’s important to be familiar with them to know how to address potential risks your employees are exposed to. In addition, employers need to establish safety guidelines to ensure that their employees are protected from these hazards while on duty.
10 Examples of Biological Hazards
So, what is an example of a biological hazard? What does a biohazard look like?
Here are some examples of biological hazards:
Blood (Humans and Animals)
Bodily fluids and tissues containing blood, plasma, serum, and other blood components in liquid or semi-liquid form can potentially transmit harmful pathogens.
Any animal body part or beddings of infected animals are also potential biohazards. These may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause infections.
Human Bodily Matter
This includes saliva, sweat, urine, feces, vomit, and mucus. In addition, they may contain harmful pathogens that can cause infections. Therefore, direct contact with human bodily matter in the workplace is highly risky, especially for healthcare workers.
This biohazard covers any human body part, organ, or tissue that may have been taken out during surgical procedures and autopsy.
This type of biohazard is commonly found in laboratories. It contains concentrated forms of infectious products such as bodily fluids or blood that contain infectious pathogens, viruses, and specimen cultures.
Molds and Yeast
These types of biological hazards are commonly found in nature and can cause infections in humans. A requirement for the breakdown of plant debris, these microorganisms can potentially enter a building, or their spores get carried in by the air. Some people inhale molds, fragments of it, or spores can lead to allergic reactions and respiratory infections.
This biohazard refers to sharp tools, broken glass, syringes, and knives. If not disposed of properly, they can cause lacerations and puncture wounds that can cause pathogenic cross-contamination and infection.
Pathogenic microbes are small organisms that can cause infections. They can be found in the air, surfaces, or water. These biological hazards are commonly found in healthcare settings and can be easily transmitted to patients and healthcare workers through coughing, sneezing, and direct or close contact.
Workers are also exposed to rubbish, sewage and wastewater, organic dust, and plant materials. These can contain biological pathogens that can cause infections and respiratory problems.
Since these can be found in various regions worldwide, stinging insects are dangerous to indoor and outdoor workers. Such insects include bees, hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps. They can sting humans and animals, and their venom can cause severe reactions in some people.
Biohazard Safety Levels
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), biological hazards are categorized into four biosafety levels. Each of these levels has specific controls to contain biological agents and microbes.
Biohazard Level 1
This level is used for agents that pose minimal threat to laboratory workers and the environment. Some examples of biological agents that fall into this category are viruses and bacteria that cause only mild disease to healthy humans.
Biohazard Level 2
This level is for agents that pose moderate threats that can cause severe diseases to humans. For example, biohazards under the level 2 category can be transmitted through direct contact with infectious materials. Hepatitis B and HIV are some examples of biological agents in this category.
Biohazard Level 3
This level is for agents that pose a serious or lethal threat to humans. Level three biohazards feature airborne pathogens and cause serious lethal diseases to humans. These biological agents can be transmitted through contact with mucous membranes. Tuberculosis and mycobacterium are biological agents that fall into this category.
Biohazard Level 4
Biohazards under the fourth level are extremely dangerous and expose humans to life-threatening diseases. This category requires workers to utilize full containment and maximum protection. Ebola, the Lassa virus, and the Marburg virus are biological agents that fall into this category.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) passed the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations in 2002 (COSHH). This regulation is meant to protect workers from exposure to biological agents. Under this law, all employers must protect their workers and other people from the hazards of harmful substances. It will be enforced by doing the following:
- Identify Hazards, both present, and potential.
- Create and instill control measures to reduce health risks.
- Decide how to prevent harm through conducting risk assessments.
- Provide information, training, and instructions to employees.
- Maintain control measures and keep them in good working order.
- Establish emergency action plans.
- Ensure proper monitoring and surveillance of employee health and wellbeing.
Monitor Biohazards using the DataMyte Digital Clipboard
As a dynamic workflow automation software, the DataMyte Digital Clipboard helps you create workflows that let you perform biological hazard assessments accurately and efficiently. For example, with our Digital Clipboard, you can do the following features:
- Create comprehensive workflows to enforce biohazard monitoring and assessment in your facility.
- Create checklists and other smart forms that you can use when workers are conducting hazard inspections.
- Assign team members to take corrective measures when biological hazards are detected or need monitoring.
- Associate specific biological hazards with corresponding control measures and safety solutions.
- Generate real-time reports to identify biological hazard risks in your facility.
- Track and monitor biological hazards over time to see trends and improve safety in your workplace.
- Analyze insights and data to assess the improvement of biosafety protocols and identify areas for improvement on biosafety protocols.
Try the DataMyte Digital Clipboard today and see how it can help you improve biological hazard safety in your workplace! Book a demo now, or click here for more info.
Biological hazards are a serious threat to human health and safety. Employers need to identify biological hazards in the workplace and put measures in place to protect workers from exposure. Make sure to follow all the regulations set by the government to ensure a safe workplace for everyone. Use technology to help you monitor biological hazards more effectively in your facility. Try the DataMyte Digital Clipboard today!