Biosafety refers to safety measures taken with respect to the effects of biological research on humans, animals, plants and the environment.

A biohazard is a biological agent that constitutes a potential hazard to humans, animals, plants or the environment.  Researchers use many different types of biohazards in their laboratories including fungi, bacteria and viruses.

Other examples of biohazards can include plant material, animals or human cells and blood.

The following documents and resources will be helpful to those whose work can potentially bring them into contact with biohazardous materials.

Understanding Biosafety at Western

Western’s Biosafety Manual offers a comprehensive look at the requirements and procedures established by the University for work involving potentially hazardous biological agents. All work conducted with potentially hazardous biological agents on University premises or under the control of the University is to be performed in accordance with the requirements of this manual.

Biosafety Policies and Procedures: This webpage provides links to a number of specific Western policies and procedures, including the Standard Operating Procedures for Autoclaving and Load Verification.

Biosafety Awareness:  This information is intended for people who may visit or walk by biosafety laboratories on campus, this document explains some of the basics of biosafety.

Biosafety Training: Western requires that anyone working with biohazardous agents take special Biosafety training. The Required Training page provides detailed information on all health and safety required training at Western, including Biosafety training.

Frequently Asked Questions about Biosafety at Western.


Biological Agents Permit Application - This form must be completed by the Principal Investigator holding a grant when the research involves biohazardous infectious agents. It must also be completed if the work involves Western faculty members, staff or students. Forms must be submitted by the end of the month prior to the Committee meeting.  Example: The form must be submitted by April 30th to be reviewed at the May meeting.

If you are making a small change to the work you do, you may complete a Modification Form instead. Please see the Modification Form Procedure for more information.

Animals in research:  If your research involves animals, please contact the Animal Use Subcommittee.

Government and Other Regulatory Information

Funding agencies require that any research they fund involving biohazards, must be approved by an institution’s Biosafety Officer and/or Biosafety Committee in accordance with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Biosafety Guidelines.  To understand these requirements, read more on the NSERC website: Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions

The Human Pathogens and Toxins Act passed June 23, 2009.

The new Canadian Biosafety Standard (CBS), 3rd edition was released by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2022.

According to the Public Agency of Canada, the development of the CBS was initiated to help streamline into a single set of standards and guidelines for laboratories regulated by both PHAC and the CFIA. The Canadian Biosafety Standard has combined and replaced the following documents:

  • Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines 3rd Edition, 2004 (PHAC)
  • Containment Standards for Veterinary Facilities 1st Edition, 1996 (CFIA)
  • Containment Standards for Laboratories, Animal Facilities and Post Mortem Rooms Handling Prion Disease Agents, 2005 (CFIA)

For more information, visit the Canadian Biosafety Standards and Guidelines website.

External Links for Biosafety

There are a number of useful websites outside of the University for biosafety information and a selection is listed here. (E.g. Canadian Food Inspection Agency guidelines and Material Data Safety Sheets)


The University has a Biosecurity Plan as required by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The University has set out the requirements for laboratories with biological agents.

Biosafety Committee & Subcommittees

Links to various Health & Safety committees

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