Biological agents

The following guidelines to ensure a safe work environment when the work involves biological agents and materials are designed for managers who have HSE responsibilities.

Norsk versjon - Arbeid med biologiske faktorer

Guidelines for individuals who work with biological agents and materials

Topic page about HSE | Pages tagged with HSE

Before you begin working with biological agents

Before your work begins you should have the following:

Genetically modified microorganisms

Genetic engineering is a technique in which genetic material is isolated, characterized, modified and inserted into living cells or viruses. Genetic engineering is regulated by the genetic engineering law (in Norwegian). The use of genetically modified microorganisms is regulated by regulations concerning the contained use of genetically modified organisms (in Norwegian).

Laboratories and workshops that will be used for contained use of genetically modified organisms should be approved beforehand by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. The use of genetically modified microorganisms should be reported to the same directorate.

Questions to ask during any HSE rounds

  • What kind of biological agents are found at the unit?
  • What procedures does the unit use to purchase biological material?
  • What procedures does the unit use for the use of biological material?
  • How is biological material stored and marked?
  • Is there an obligation to apply for permission for the use or storage of the unit's biological material (genetically modified organisms, or special laboratory conditions) or is it subject to reporting requirements?
  • What procedures does the unit use to dispose of biological material?
  • Can the unit's biological material cause infection, allergy or poisoning?
  • How are employees and students protected from possible exposure?
  • What procedures does the unit have to ensure that medical examinations or vaccines are offered to employees/students if necessary?

When working with biological agents

As the manager in charge of the work, you should ensure that:

  • Procedures and plans are adhered to, evaluated and if necessary, altered. Make sure that everyone involved knows about any changes.
  • Accidents or adverse events are reported as a problem (log on with your NTNU username and password).

You can also read more about working with biological agents.

Exposure index

Working with biological agents in infection risk groups 3 and 4 may imply registration in the Exposure index. Go to Exposure index to see what actions are necessary. To get into the index: Log into the substance index, click 'Administration' in the menu on the left side, and click 'Exposure'.


NTNU regulations




Approved by Director of HSE - September 1st 2015 - HMSR53E - ePhorte 2016/3901