Unit 4.II.1 Biological Agents in OSH

The legal term "biological agent” includes in particular bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, but also cell cultures which may pose risks at the workplace in the event of contact. The totality of biological agents to be considered includes several tens of thousands of species, including their genetically modified forms. The diversity ranges from harmless baker's yeast to the deadly Ebola virus.

Workplaces involving such activities can be found in laboratories, but also in health care, animal husbandry and waste management. For employees, health risks such as infections but also sensitising and toxic effects must be taken into account in terms of health protection as part of the risk assessment at the workplace. The basis for this is provides by the Technical Rules for Biological Agents (TRBA), which concretise the Biological Agents Ordinance. In addition to answering questions on the epidemiology of workplace-related infectious diseases, focal points such as the discovery of hitherto unknown or modified biological agents, changes in work and changing climatic conditions, as well as the consideration of legal framework conditions of infection protection that go beyond occupational health and safety, represent special challenges.

The tasks of Unit 4.II.1 "Biological Agents in Occupational Safety and Health" include the implementation of research projects, knowledge transfer, policy advice, and the performance of sovereign tasks.

These include, in particular

  • Conception and monitoring of studies and expert meetings on epidemiological issues in the field of workplace-related infectious diseases
  • Contributions to the further development of the infection control - occupational health and safety interface
  • Development, processing and consultation on issues of risk assessment and protective measures for activities with biological agents
  • Consultation and participation in higher-level issues of German and European legislation and regulations on occupational health and safety for activities involving biological agents
  • Cooperation in the area of the legal tasks of the Biocide Ordinance in the assessment? of biocidal products and biocidal active substances containing biological agents
  • Advice and knowledge management on occupational medicine for work-related infectious diseases and contributions to occupational health screening
  • Contributions to the classification of biological agents into risk groups
  • Participation in university teaching and promotion of young academics
  • Management and participation in the subcommittees of the Committee on Biological Agents (ABAS)

To the topic


Silke Hopf

Head of
Unit 4.II.1 Biological Agents in OSH

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