Unintentional release or containment concerns relating to quarantine material must be reported directly to the Department of Agriculture on 8318 6923 or 1800 020 504 (free phone).

Spills and unintentional release

The following procedure for cleaning up a microbiological spill is based on that described in Section 9 of AS/NZS 2243.3.

  1. If a large spill occurs outside a BSC, the area must be vacated for 30 minutes to allow any aerosols to settle.
  2. Contaminated clothing should be removed and placed in a biohazard bag for decontamination. Wash exposed skin and if spilled material has soaked through clothing take a complete shower in a regular shower (i.e. not a chemical emergency shower) where possible so as not to create infectious aerosols.
  3. Warn others to keep out of the area of the spill and place a biohazard sign with 'Do Not Enter' on the door.
  4. Establish a clean-up team of at least 2 people, preferably 3. One member of the team should act as a supervisor and ensure that other members are not inadvertently contaminating themselves.
  5. Personal protective clothing appropriate for the agent that has been spilled should be worn during clean up. This may include a lab coat, eye protection, booties, gloves and respiratory protection (P2/N95 disposable face mask).
  6. The spill should be covered with absorbent material (vermiculite if available, paper towels soaked in disinfectant will do otherwise). Surround the edges of the spill with paper to prevent it spreading further when disinfectant has been added.
  7. Add disinfectant to the spill starting at the perimeter and working towards the centre. Hypochlorite solution with a concentration of 0.5-1.0% available chlorine (5000-10,000 ppm) is recommended for this procedure.
  8. Allow the disinfectant to act by leaving it there for at least 10 minutes.
  9. Carefully mop up the spillage and disinfectant solution and transfer all contaminated objects and liquids to a waste container for contaminated material. DO NOT HANDLE SHARPS DIRECTLY.
  10. Be sure to wipe down other surfaces (for example, chairs, lab benches) where aerosols may have settled with disinfectant.
  11. Check yourself for contamination. Remove lab coats and gloves, and check boots/shoes for possible contamination. Clean with disinfectant as required.
  12. Report the incident to your supervisor.

Unintentional release of GMOs

Any incident involving GMOs, especially unintentional release of a GMO into the environment, must be reported to the OGTR, via the Gene Technology and Biosafety Committee. Should an incident occur, please contact the Biosafety Office (6488 4701) as soon as the immediate hazard has been rendered safe.