Biorisk Management

Biorisk management is the effective management of risks involved in the handling of infectious materials like viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and toxins inside the laboratory. It includes principles, practices, and equipment that ensure the biosafety and biosecurity of infectious materials and toxins.

Risk Group Classification of Microbial Agents

The World Health Organization Laboratory Biosafety Manual (2004) classifies microbial agents into four Risk Groups based on (1) its capability to infect and cause disease in a susceptible host, (2) its virulence or severity of the disease it causes, and (3) availability of preventive measures and effective treatments for the disease.

RISK GROUP 1 (No or low individual and community risk)

A microorganism that is unlikely to cause human or animal disease. 


Bacillus subtilis

Escherichia coli K-12


Saccharomyces cerevisiae

RISK GROUP 2 (Moderate individual risk; low community risk)

A microorganism that can cause human or animal disease but is unlikely to be a serious hazard to humans, livestock or the environment. Laboratory exposures may cause serious infection, but effective treatment and preventive measures are available. The risk of transmission is limited.




Escherichia coli

Staphylococcus aureus

Most bacterial cultures and isolates

Most fungal cultures and isolates

Most mammalian cultures  

RISK GROUP 3 (High individual risk; low community risk)

A microorganism that usually causes serious human or animal disease but does not ordinarily spread from one infected individual to another. Effective treatment and preventive measures are available.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Human immunodeficiency virus

Influenza viruse


RISK GROUP 4 (High individual and community risk)

A microbial agent that usually causes serious human or animal disease and can be readily transmitted from one individual to another. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available.


Ebola virus

Marburg virus

Lassa virus


Laboratory facilities of the Institute of Biology are only allowed to handle microorganisms belonging to

Risk Groups 1 and 2.  The Risk Group classification of a particular microorganism can be determined using the Risk Group Database of the American Biological Safety Association. Uncharacterized microorganisms isolated from environmental samples should be considered as at least Risk Group 2.

Laboratory Biosafety Levels

Biosafety level is a set of containment precautions and equipment needed to isolate dangerous biological agents in a laboratory facility. The WHO identifies four containment levels with different requirements: 









Source: WHO LBM (2004)






Source: WHO LBM (2004)

Biosafety Level Checklist

The Institute of Biology only has BSL1 and BSL2 facilities. Below are the checklists used by the University of the Philippines – Institutional Biosafety Committee in assessing the BSL level of a laboratory.










Source: WHO LBM (2004)

Biosafety Level 1

Laboratory Design


- Lab equipment properly labelled (biohazardous etc)

- Designed for easy cleaning
- All shelves secured

- Sinks available for hand washing
- Bench tops waterproof and resistant to acids, alkali, organic solvents and heat
- Adequate illumination in laboratory
- Adequate storage space available and appropriately used
- Minimum passage width of 1 meter in laboratory for fire protection

Gas Cylinders, Chemicals, Refrigerators and Electrical Equipment

- Gas cylinders secured and with caps
- Excess or empty gas cylinders present Flammables stored in flammable storage cabinet
- Peroxide formers double-dated (received and opened)
- Chemicals properly segregated
- Hazardous chemicals stored above eye level Chemicals stored on the floor
- Chemical containers left open
- All solutions properly labeled
- Food for human consumption present in refrigerators
- Extension cords present
- Outlets earthed/grounded
- Connections near sinks, under showers etc. Equipment with frayed or damaged wiring

Personal Protective Equipment and Waste Management

- Eyewash available in laboratory
- Safety shower available
- Personal protective equipment (gloves, gowns, goggles etc.) available and worn
- Personal protective equipment not worn outside the laboratory
- Evidence of improper waste disposal
- Wastes segregated in proper containers

- Chemical waste containers tagged, dated, labeled and kept closed
- Chemical waste containers appropriately handled and stored
- Sharps containers used and disposed of properly
- No trash on floor
- Waste disposal procedures posted in laboratory 

Biosafety Level 2

Laboratory and Biological Safety Cabinet

- BSC certification within last year
- BSC surface wiped down with disinfectant at the beginning and end of each procedure

- Front grill and exhaust filter unobstructed

- Open flames used inside cabinet
- Access limited and restricted to authorized personnel
- Entry limited to personnel advised of all potential hazards
- Biohazard sign posted on laboratory door as appropriate
- All doors closed
- Hand-washing sink available near laboratory exit

Decontamination and Handling of Contaminated Waste

- Decontaminant specific to organism(s) in use

- All spills and accidents involving infectious materials reported to the laboratory supervisor

- Appropriate decontaminant used during spill cleanups
- Work surfaces decontaminated before and after each procedure, daily and after spills

- Infectious waste containers properly used

- Containers not overfilled

- Culture stocks and other regulated waste properly decontaminated before disposal

- Materials decontaminated outside the laboratory transported in closed, durable, leakproof containers according to local rules and regulations

Personal Protection and Practices

- Gloves worn when handling infectious material or contaminated equipment
- Face protection provided when working outside the BSC with the infectious material

- Hands washed after removing gloves, after working with infectious agents, before leaving the laboratory

- Antimicrobial agent available for immediate first aid
- BSC used when potential for creating infectious aerosols/splashes exists

- Procedures performed so as to minimize aerosols/splashes

- Infectious specimens transported outside a BSC in approved containers following approved transport regulations