La GESTIS Biological Agents Database, développée par l’Institute for Occupational Safety and Health de la German Social Accident Insurance (IFA), comporte des informations sur les propriétés de divers agents biologiques afin d’assurer une manipulation sécuritaire dans les laboratoires. Les mesures de prévention techniques et organisationnelles sont aussi présentées. En outre, la base de données contient des informations sur d’autres secteurs d’activité où ces agents biologiques peuvent être présents. Un article de l’encyclopédie collaborative (OSHwiki) de l’Agence européenne pour la sécurité et la santé au travail (EU-OSHA) décrit le contenu de cette ressource.
Anyone using biological agents has to be aware of their hazard potential. The GESTIS Biological Agents Database contains a wealth of information ranging from the classification in risk groups through to occupational safety and health measures. Biological agents such as microorganisms are omnipresent and in many cases useful as well. Without them we would not survive – for some of them form a protective film on our skin, while others are responsible for the working of our digestive system. So it is not surprising that microorganisms also occur and are put to use in the working environment, such as in the food and beverages industry (lactic acid bacteria, baking and brewing yeast). Other branches of industry also resort to microorganisms: bacteria, fungi and the like form the basic substances of biotechnology; the pharmaceutical industry uses them for the production of antibiotics; and biotechnologically produced enzymes are firmly established in the detergent and cleaning agent industry. A large number of biological agents are also intentionally used or arise incidentally in science and research as well as in biotechnology and keeping of experimental animals. In the health service, veterinary medicine, agriculture and forestry, in cleaning and refurbishment activities, waste water and solid waste management, and in abattoirs, they can also be encountered – and risks may arise as well. For biological agents also include numerous bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that are capable of causing infectious diseases and other health problems in humans. The biological agents arising at the workplace therefore have to be included in the risk assessment. The risk assessment is the central element of occupational safety and health and the basis for systematic and effective safety and health protection in the everyday working environment.