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Institutional Biosafety Committee

The purpose of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is to provide a forum for addressing biosafety issues across the University. It also has a duty to protect students and staff of the University, as well as the Australian people and environment, by establishing procedures to minimise risk due to the release of any harmful organism into the environment.

The (IBC) has the specific responsibility to consider and advise on the following types of activity within research and teaching programs:

  • The use of potentially infectious agents in laboratories (under Australian Standard AS/NZS 2243.3 and related professional and regulatory policies).
  • Work with genetically modified organisms (under the Gene Technology Act 2000) and other guidelines provided by the Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR).
  • Activities relating to the safe handling and disposal of imported biological materials (Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources).

Consequently, the IBC is a central element of the management of health and safety for any organisation engaged in activities involving recombinant DNA, genetic manipulation and any exposure to potentially infectious or hazardous agents such as human or animal blood or tissues, whether locally derived or imported.

Applications for consideration of Exempt Dealings (ED) and Notifiable Low-Risk Dealings (NLRD) may be submitted to the Ethics team (ethics@cqu.edu.au) on the form located on the Research Moodle site.

Applications for projects involving Intentional Release of GMOs (DIR) must be lodged directly with the OGTR using the forms provided on the OGTR website.

Certain dealings with GMOs must be contained within physical containment facilities. The Regulator provides technical and procedural guidelines for the certification of facilities to specified containment levels. Certification of facilities ensures safety measures are adhered to, preventing the release of GMOs into the environment and at the same time protecting persons outside the facility and ensuring the safety of those working with GMOs within the laboratory.

If you wish to apply for the certification of a facility, please download and complete relevant sections of the application proformas provided on the OGTR website, and forward it to Coordinator (ethics@cqu.edu.au or Research Division, Building 32) for processing.

The certification guidelines establish four levels of containment, listed here in ascending order of the stringency of containment requirements, reflecting the level of risk:

  • Physical Containment Level 1 (PC1)
  • Physical Containment Level 2 (PC2)
  • Physical Containment Level 3 (PC3)
  • Physical Containment Level 4 (PC4)

In addition, there are different types of facilities designed to contain different forms of organisms and dealings (microorganisms, plants, animals, etc).
Applicants will be required to indicate on the application form the PC level and the type of facility to be certified. The PC level and facility type will dictate which inspection report checklist, if any, should be completed and submitted with the application.

If you wish to apply for a certification of a physical containment facility, the OGTR website provides comprehensive information pertaining to the accreditation process.

Guidance on the procedures for working with potentially infectious agents in laboratories

Researchers are requested to complete the Biohazard Identification and Risk Management form and submit it to the relevant laboratory manager for assessment. Once assessed and authorised, a copy is to be retained by the assessor (ideally in the location where the work is to be carried out), and a second copy is to be forwarded to the IBC secretary for CQUniversity records.

Guidance on the procedures for working with genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

The Commonwealth has established a national legislative framework for the regulation of gene technology in Australia. This regulatory system is managed by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR). CQUniversity has received accreditation with OGTR, Accreditation number ACCR 158/2013. For researchers planning to work with genetically modified organisms, you must review the current version of the Gene Technology Act 2000, Gene Technology Amendment Act 2007, Gene Technology Regulations 2001 and Gene Technology Amendment Regulations 2007 prior to submitting your application.

All University personnel that wish to 'deal' with genetically modified organisms (GMO) should be familiar with the appropriate processes for (i) certification of facilities and (ii) approval of research activities within the university. Some of these processes will require appropriate training. Training will be provided twice yearly by the Research Division for those intending to use facilities that require OGTR accreditation.

Check the link to see whether your project requires approval from the IBC, and to see the stages involved in the approval process.