Understanding Biological Hazard Examples

Be familiar with 10 biological hazard examples and know the various types of biological hazards along with the biohazard safety levels. Learn how a powerful mobile inspection app can help in monitoring biohazards in the workplace.

biological hazard examples

Published 28 Apr 2022

What is a Biological Hazard?

Also known as a biohazard, a biological hazard pertains to any biological material, such as microorganisms, plants, animals, or their byproducts, that threatens the health of living organisms, most especially humans and animals. Potential biohazards should be handled with extreme caution as they may cause harm and can be fatal in certain cases.

Biohazards can be found anywhere, including the workplace. Hence, it’s crucial to be familiar with at least 10 biological hazard examples so that you have an idea on how to address certain risks that your workers are exposed to. Even more so, employers must establish safety guidelines to ensure minimal risks brought about by such hazards, further keeping workers safe and healthy while on duty.

10 Biological Hazard Examples

While various workplaces and industries deal with different biohazards, there are common ones that pose major threats to the health and safety of the workers. Looking at each in detail, here are 10 biological hazard examples that your workers might be exposed to.

1. Human blood and blood products

Bodily fluids, tissues that contain blood, serum, plasma, and other blood components in liquid or semi-liquid form are examples of biological hazards.

2. Animal waste

Any animal body part or the beddings of infected animals are also considered as biological hazards.

3. Human bodily matter

Direct contact with biological hazards such as human bodily matter in the workplace—blood, saliva, urine, and mucus—is highly risky most especially to healthcare workers.

4. Microbiological waste

Usually found in laboratories, this waste may contain concentrated forms of infectious products, such as blood or bodily fluids that have infectious pathogens, specimen cultures, and viruses.

5. Pathological waste

This covers any human body part, tissue, or organ that may have been taken out during surgical procedures.

6. Sharps waste

Belonging to the larger group of infectious waste, this type of biological hazard pertains to syringes, sharp tools, and broken glass that are at risk of pathogenic cross-contamination and piercing through human skin protection.

7. Molds and yeasts

These are found in nature, needed for the breakdown of plant debris. Such microorganisms can enter a building directly or their spores can be carried in by the air. For some people, inhalation of the molds, fragments of the molds, or spores can lead to serious health problems or worsen certain health conditions.

8. Organic material

Workers may also be exposed to rubbish, waste water and sewerage, plant materials, and organic dust.

9. Airborne pathogens

Pathogenic microbes, which are small enough to be discharged from an infected person, are easily transmitted through sneezing, coughing, and direct or close contact.

10. Stinging insects

As these can be found throughout various geographic regions, stinging insects are especially dangerous to outdoor workers. Such insects include bees, wasps, hornets, and non-venomous and venomous spiders.

Biohazard Safety Levels

As cited by Aftermath, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the 4 biosafety levels, with each of them having specific controls to contain microbes and biological agents:

  • Biohazard Level 1: Often pertains to agents that include viruses and bacteria, this biosafety level requires minimal precaution, such as wearing face masks and maintaining no close contact. The biological hazard examples in the first level include E.coli and other non-infectious bacteria.
  • Biohazard Level 2: Usually causing severe diseases to humans, the second level classifies agents that can be transmitted through direct contact with infected materials. HIV and hepatitis B are some biological hazard examples that pose moderate risks to humans.
  • Biohazard Level 3: Mainly through respiratory transmission, pathogens that are highly likely to become airborne can cause serious or lethal diseases to humans. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, is an example of a level-3 biohazard.
  • Biohazard Level 4: Extremely dangerous pathogens that expose humans to life-threatening diseases, the fourth and last level requires workers to utilize maximum protection and containment. Some biological hazard examples are the Ebola virus and the Lassa virus.

Per given biosafety level, there are strict requirements when it comes to the laboratory design, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and biosafety equipment. Further, there are Standard Microbiological Practices to be enforced at all biosafety levels. The 10 biological hazard examples listed in this article may be categorized under each level depending on the potential risks involved. This is why conducting a job hazard analysis and a risk assessment are recommended to streamline safe and quality operations.

Regulations

According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 is the main legislation applicable to biohazards. As a UK Statutory Instrument, the law describes general requirements on employers to protect their workers and other people from the hazards of substances. This must be enforced by doing the following:

Monitor Biohazards Using a Powerful Tool

As a dynamic inspection software and mobile app, iAuditor by SafetyCulture lets you perform biological hazard assessments efficiently and accurately. In detail, you can do the following using the app’s unique features:

Try iAuditor for free!

pat guevara safetyculture content specialist

SafetyCulture Content Specialist

Patricia Guevara

Patricia Guevara is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. With her extensive content writing and copywriting experience, she creates high-quality content across a variety of relevant topics. She aims to promote workplace safety, operational excellence, and continuous improvement in her articles. She is passionate about communicating how technology can be used to streamline work processes, empowering companies to realize their business goals.

Patricia Guevara is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. With her extensive content writing and copywriting experience, she creates high-quality content across a variety of relevant topics. She aims to promote workplace safety, operational excellence, and continuous improvement in her articles. She is passionate about communicating how technology can be used to streamline work processes, empowering companies to realize their business goals.