Biosafety and Quarantine

Work Health and Safety Biosafety and Quarantine

JCU is committed to providing a safe workplace for staff, students and visitors.  The University recognises the need to protect students, staff and the environment from potential hazards associated with biological organisms or materials that may contain biological hazards.

Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

The JCU IBC is a sub-committee to the JCU Health, Safety and Environment Advisory Committee (HSEAC). The current Terms of Reference for the committee are maintained by the HSE Unit.

The IBC oversees compliance of JCU with the Office of Gene Technology Regulation and makes recommendations relating to biosafety issues at JCU. 

Hazards specifically monitored by the IBC include:

  • Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Materials derived from human sources
  • Materials derived from animal sources in particular those with zoonotic infection, and
  • Micro-organisms.

Membership

Composition of CommitteeMember and Position Title
Chairperson (Member appointed by HSEAC)Mr Geoffrey Gorton, Director Divisional Operations, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine

Members of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine:

Member 1 of 2 – College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary SciencesDr Catherine Rush (or Nominee) Deputy Chair
Member 2 of 2 – College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary SciencesA/Professor Bill Leggat (or Nominee)

Member of the College of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Lynn Woodward (or Nominee), Research Resource Manager
Members of the Division of Tropical Environment and Societies:
I.Member of the College of Marine  and Environmental SciencesDr Carolyn Smith-Keune (or Nominee)
II.Manager, Laboratories and Technical SupportMrs Susan Kelly (or Nominee)
III.Academic, College of Marine and Environmental SciencesMrs Sue Reilly (or Nominee)
Member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesDr Aurelie Moya (or Nominee), Research Fellow: Genomics
Member of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine:
I.Townsville CampusDr Lynn Woodward (or Nominee)
II.Cairns CampusMr Phill Walsh (or Nominee)
Objective Member – External Entity Mr Mykel Smith (or Nominee), Manager, Regulatory Services, Community and Environmental Services, Townsville City Council
Permanent Advisor - HSE Biological, Radiation and Chemical Safety AdvisorMr Drew Kleier (or Nominee), HSE Biological, Radiation and Chemicals Safety Advisor Health, Safety and Environment Unit
SecretariatMs Michelle Nethery (or Nominee), HSE Administrative Officer, Health, Safety and Environment Unit

Biosafety Application

A biosafety application (DOC, 183 KB) is required for projects with biological hazards. Hazards include, but are not limited to:

  • GMO
    • Genetically modified microorganisms
    • Genetically modified animals and plants.
  • Materials derived from human source
    • Collecting blood
    • Interacting with potentially infected individuals, for example, interviewing or taking biological samples
    • Activities conducted outside of facilities being operated under infection and control requirements from Queensland Health
  • Materials derived from animal sources, in particular those with potential for causing zoonotic infection
    • Dealing with wild animals, such as bats (e.g. Lyssavirus)
    • Dealing with domestic animals, such as horses (e.g. Hendra Virus)
    • Dealing with animals outside of Australia (e.g. rabies)
  • Purposely infecting animals
  • Working with poisonous or venomous organisms
  • Synthetic toxins/biologicals
  • Working with microorganisms.

Is your project relevant?

If there is uncertainty whether a project requires a biosafety application, the applicant should seek guidance by sending an email to biosafety@jcu.edu.au.

The email should include the following information:

  • Applicant's name
  • Contact details
  • Name of supervisor
  • Division
  • College/Institute
  • Description of the project

During the process the Divisional Biosafety Representative may be able to offer assistance.

An initial ruling will be made by an IBC member to determine one of the following for the project:

  • Confirm that the biosafety application process is relevant, and the full biosafety application is to be completed; or
  • That the biosafety application process is not relevant, and the decision will be recorded on a central register maintained on the Biosafety Drive; or
  • Further information is required to make the assessment.

Biosafety Application

If the project is to proceed under a biosafety application or it was obvious that the application was required, the applicant must then complete the full application for submission (JCU Biosafety Application Approval (DOC, 183 KB)). Completed applications are to be sent to biosafety@jcu.edu.au.

The application should include sufficient details to enable the Biosafety representative to review your project methodologies, organisms to be used and proposed activities incorporating any relevant risk assessments.  

Please refer to the Biosafety Procedure (PDF, 733.73 KB) for the sections outlined below.

Overview of obtaining approval to work with biological hazards at JCU (PDF, 197.43 KB)

Biosafety Training

Any person working with biological material in a PC facility and in the field must complete and pass the biosafety training that is available on LearnJCU.

A laboratory induction is required to be completed by anyone working within a physical containment facility or laboratory. Adequate training and instruction may also be required prior to the operation of any specific piece of equipment.

Certified Physical Containment Facilities

JCU maintains both Physical Containment Level 2 and Physical Containment Level 3 containment facilities that are certified by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR).

The facilities and procedures are maintained in accordance with: 

  • AS/NZS 2243.3:2010 Safety in laboratories Part 3: Microbiological safety and containment, which identifies the requirements for physical containment facilities 1-4
  • Facilities certified to OGTR requirement will have additional requirements that can be identified in the guidelines for each type of facility and the related PC certification level; the guidelines are available from the OGTR website.
PC RatingHazard LevelUse/ControlsExample MicroorganismRisk Groups

PC1

Laboratory

Animal Containment Facility

Plant Containment Facility

Invertebrate Facility

Low

Student and undegraduate teaching laboratories.

General laboratory conditions, such as sealed floors and benches.

Reliant on laboratory practices to control risk.

Food grade bacteria

Risk Group 1 

PC2

Laboratory

Animal Containment Facility

Plant Containment Facility

Invertebrate Facility

Moderate

Research, diagnostic facilities.

Where infectious aerosols could be present a biological safety cabinet will be used

Salmonella Paratyphi A and B

Legionella sppRisk Group 2
PC3

Risk Group 2

PC3

Laboratory

High

Research, diagnostic facilities.

Additional controls such as airlocks, access controls, vaccination, additional training.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus
Dengue 1, 2, 3 and 4
Hepatitis C

Risk Group 3

PC4

Laboratory

Very High

Highest level of control.

Additional controls such as airlocks, access controls, vaccination, additional training, change rooms, shower facilities, and class III biological safety cabinets or fully encapsulated positive pressure suit.

Ebola
Hendra

Risk Group 4

Quarantine

Quarantine requirements are monitored by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in accordance with the Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014.

The Department issues permits for importation and monitors compliance through auditing of Quarantine Approved Premises (QAP).

Import permits impose the requirements relating to the specific application.  The requirements of a permit must be met in full.

Import permit requirements can range from:

  • Initial inspection at the point of entry (in some cases there are no further requirements).
  • Import with post entry requirements including the need to use material within a Quarantine Approved Premises (QAP), track usage and disposal.

Biosecurity Import Conditions

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has a Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) system for importing.

JCU has set up a multi user BICON account administered by the HSE Unit.

Anyone planning on submitting import permit applications will need to register as a ‘user’ on the system.  There are two ways to become a ‘user’:

  1. Receiving an invite from the system administrator.  Initially you would request an account from importpermit@jcu.edu.au.
  2. When applying in the BICON system selecting the ‘account type’ as joining an existing ‘multi user account’, and selecting James Cook University.

Once you have a user account applications can be submitted to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Permit applications can either be paid by credit card or a tax invoice can be generated from the system.  Be aware that when an invoice is generated the assessment process will not start until after the invoice is paid.

Any permits in the previous ICON system will not convert over to BICON, and will eventually expire under the old system.

Further information can be found at the following link: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/bicon.

Quarantine Approved Premises (QAP)

Quarantine Approved Premises are the facilities registered with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The facility must meet the criteria set out in the guidelines for facility types provided by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.  This includes both the physical and procedural requirements (http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/general-info/qap/qap-facilities). Quarantine requirements will be in addition to those for OGTR.

Quarantine Training

Any person wishing to work with quarantine material must undergo the Quarantine Approved Premises for Accredited Persons (QAP-AP) training for the type of facility.

Anyone working with quarantine material must be trained in the specific permit requirements and the requirements for the facility.

Legislation

Links