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Vice President for Research

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Risk Assessment

The risk assessment is performed in order to assign the appropriate containment level. The risks associated with working with biohazardous materials need to be assessed and addressed. The responsibility for assessing the risks associated with biohazardous materials or obtaining an initial assessment lies with the investigator. The assessment helps to reduce the risks associated with handling the materials plus it results in protection for workers and the environment.


Risk assessments seek to determine both the probability of particular risks and the consequences if the risks occur.

A risk assessment is to be performed by the PI before the initiation of each protocol. The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) will confirm during its review that the proposed risk group(s) is appropriate for the proposed activity. The risk assessment is to be evaluated based on requirements for using Recombinant DNA and/or other biological agents and toxins, particularly select agents.



The following criteria must be considered when determining the risk involved. 

Factors that are considered in the assessment are:

Agent Characteristics


Transmissibility and mode of transmission

Infectious dose

Environmental stability

Host range



Availability of therapeutic treatments



Level of training and experience
Health status
Ability to wear required PPE

Experimental Factors

Aerosol generating activities
Potential for self-innoculation
Concentration and nature of samples
Decontamination procedures
Contingency plan


Level of containment available vs. required
Lab facility conditions
Factors affecting containment (i.e. air flow)
Availability of emergency support (i.e. eye wash, spill kits)
Access by public (i.e. students, visitors)


Standard operating procedures
Location within lab
Equipment specific hazards

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