for safety is hampered by the fact that safety cannot be measured
directly. The words "safe" and "safety" are
ideal concepts which, while desirable, are unattainable in absolute
Practical planning for safety is performed by evaluating
its opposite, namely, risk. Safety in biomedical research is
an exercise in recognizing what the risks are and then introducing
procedures, practices, equipment, and facilities to control
the identified risks or reduce them to acceptable levels.
The recent advances in genetic engineering, cell fusion, immobilized
cells, and enzymes, etc., have provided a new dimension to applied
Technology is advancing so rapidly that it is not possible
for safety specialists to anticipate each use of potentially
hazardous biological or chemical systems and to monitor, appropriately,
every operation that involves these materials. It has
become essential for the researcher to have sufficient knowledge
to identify the potential hazards associated with the work and
to institute procedures and practices necessary to conduct the
activity in as safe a manner as possible.
The purpose of this program is to emphasize the need for adequate
safety precautions in the planning, initiation, and termination
of activity involving biological material that represent a real
or potential hazard to the worker.
There are two principle reasons for this emphasis:
- the potential threat of infection in the work environment
has long been recognized and appreciated by the microbiologist;
- the number of non microbiologists engaged in biotechnological
activities is increasing.
Researchers may not be sufficiently trained to take the necessary
precautions to protect themselves, their co-workers, and the
The safe handling of an infectious agent requires an objective
evaluation of the hazard potential associated with each aspect
of work activity. Such an evaluation should include consideration
of the microorganism(s) involved; the procedures and practices
associated with their use; the adequacy of equipment and facilities
required to carry out the program in a safe and prudent manner;
a review of available information on related laboratory acquired
illness; the training and experience of personnel; and the appropriateness
of vaccination or other medical surveillance requirements prior
to program initiation.
These and other topics will be discussed in the sections which