What are biological hazards?

Micro-organisms are abundant within our atmosphere and can be found anywhere with our natural environment. Often, these micro-organisms will be harmless and are often required to complete vital tasks, such as making medicine or support the production of other chemicals. They are also responsible for the production of approximately half of the oxygen we breathe. However, we also can recognise that certain micro-organisms can cause significant harm. In this instance they are considered a biological hazard

Micro-organisms can cause harm to a human being through three routes, these are:

  • being infected with the micro-organism 
  • being exposed to toxins produced by the micro-organism 
  • having an allergic reaction to the micro-organism or substances it produces. 

Dependant on the nature of the biological hazard, the harm that they can cause can often be serious, and potentially fatal. 

Whilst the UK rail industry does not conduct work specifically with microorganisms, many of its operations can result in employees being exposed to biological hazards which can adversely affect human health. Examples can include: