HSE and Infection at Work

HSE operates and enforces legislation in Great Britain that aims to control the risks to human health from micro-organisms people may be exposed to at work.

The principal legislation that applies is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). These regulations cover hazardous substances including biological agents (pathogenic micro-organisms) and they contain a schedule of special provisions relating to biological agents. COSHH, together with the associated Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs), require employers to assess the risks of exposure to biological agents (micro-organisms) and either prevent exposure (where reasonably practicable) or control it adequately.

Who we are

The Specialist Inspector Team

  • Provide advice and guidance to centres working with harmful micro-organisms and genetically modified organisms.
  • Undertake inspections of premises undertaking work with micro-organisms classified in Hazard Groups 3 and 4 or research activities with micro-organisms in Hazard Group 2 or any work with genetically modified micro-organisms.

The Notification Team

Manage the statutory notification scheme for GM premises and activities and undertake the administrative procedures involved in the handling of notifications under the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations and COSHH.

The Policy Team

  • Negotiate and implement EU and international law and Conventions on biological agents and GMOs
  • Develop national legislation
  • Ensure that the regulatory regime covering biological agents is in line with over-arching government policies.

Local General Inspectors

Inspect workplaces where the possibility of exposure to micro-organisms is incidental to the purpose of the work eg healthcare workers, farmers and sewage workers.

Contact details for: Local General Inspectors

The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP)

A committee of external experts providing technical and scientific advice to the Department of Health, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, HSE and Devolved Administrations on all aspects of hazards and risks to workers and others from exposure to pathogens.

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Updated 2022-05-20