Biosafety

The biosafety program at St. Michael’s Hospital is intended to protect workers, students, the community and the environment from the risks which may arise in the handling of potentially hazardous biological materials, by ensuring that all elements described in the biosafety program are available and implemented prior to starting any work involving bio-hazardous material. It also ensures that all work is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, provincial and institutional legislations and guidelines.

This biosafety site is to provide guidance and direction for handling, transporting and disposing of hazardous biological agents at St. Michael’s Hospital. Although the awareness of the hazards posed by these agents have increased over the previous decades, the widespread and increasing use of these agents in research, means they pose an ever increasing risk to researchers and the general public.

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The purpose of our biosafety site is to provide guidance and direction for handling, transporting and disposing of hazardous biological agents at St. Michael’s Hospital. A hazardous biological agent is defined as biologically-derived material that poses a hazard to human health or to the environment. Although the awareness of the hazards posed by these agents have increased over the previous decades, the widespread and increasing use of these agents in research, means they pose an ever increasing risk to researchers and the general public.

Quick guide

  1. President statement on health and safety (internal use only)
  2. Biosafety Program at St. Michael’s
  3. Corporate Health and Safety Services (internal use only)
  4. Regulations and Legislation concerning Biosafety
  5. Biosafety standard operating procedures and policies
  6. Pregnant worker FAQ
  1. The exposed site must be washed immediately: 
    • If it’s a needlestick, cut, puncture wound, animal bite or scratch, wash with soap and water after allowing the wound to bleed freely. 
    • If it’s mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth) or non-intact skin (cuts, rash, acne or dermatitis) contact, flush with cold water at the nearest faucet or eye-wash station. 
  2. The worker must immediately inform the supervisor / principal investigator of the exposure incident. 
  3. The worker must seek prompt medical attention at the Emergency Department of the hospital.

If there is a biohazardous spill, you must:

  1. Evacuate the laboratory for a time sufficient for most aerosols to settle or be dispersed or removed by the ventilation system (approximately 20-30 minutes).
  2. Carefully layer absorbent material over the spill, starting from the outer edge of the spill and working in towards the centre. Place materials in a biohazard bag (yellow). 
  3. Repeat until all of the spill is absorbed. 
  4. Pour a strong disinfectant over the area of spill (e.g. Bleach, Virox) for a time expected to allow for decontamination. Use absorbent material to carefully remove the disinfectant and dispose of it into a biohazard bag 
  5. Decontaminate all surfaces or pieces of equipment exposed to the spill with a suitable disinfectant.

The St. Michael’s Hospital Research Biosafety Committee (RBC) is charged with ensuring that all activities within the research community of St. Michael’s Hospital that involve work with biohazardous agents are conducted in a safe manner and in conformity with all applicable standards and guidelines.

The RBC is composed of principal investigators (PIs), researchers and administrators with responsibilities and experience in handling biohazardous materials and is chaired by a senior researcher. The Chair is empowered, with the advice and guidance of the RBC members, to approve the use of biohazardous materials by a St. Michael’s PI via a biosafety permit and to enforce appropriate safety standards.

Biosafety Permit

For all research work involving the handling, use or manipulation of biohazardous or potentially biohazardous material within St. Michael’s Hospital, a group must hold a valid biosafety permit. Materials include viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, prions and other microorganisms/genetic systems, and human and animal tissues, cells, blood and body fluids.

Application forms are available through the Research Biosafety Officer, who will also provide guidance and assistance in completing the form.

Forms are completed electronically and submitted to the Research Biosafety Committee (RBC) via the Research Biosafety Officer (BSO).

 

Training is an essential component of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, helping ensure that all workers can perform their jobs in a safe and healthy way. Research Facilities offers a variety of training courses to faculty, staff and students including new employee training, hands-on training and online learning modules.

View all safety trainings 

The hospital has an internal licensing system that controls the radioisotope types and amounts, their uses within areas in the hospital. Every wet bench researcher that uses a radioisotope must hold radioisotope use permit.

Information on handling, transport and safe use procedures for radioactive substances can be found here. The documents contained here cover procedures for wet bench researchers, but also for applications within the hospital. For further information on radiation safety and the use of radioisotopes, contact the Radiation Safety Officer.