Help GB Work Well case study highlights ISTR’s new research for working with arthropods

As we near the end of British Science Week, we’re sharing how the Institute of Safety in Technology and Research’s (ISTR) commitment to managing risk and keeping pace with change as part of their contribution to Help GB Work Well, has led to the delivery of internationally-significant research.

A collaborative project between research scientists and the Institute has produced the first industry guidance on working safely with a variety of insect vectors of disease as well as genetically modified (GM) insects.

Following the rise in emerging and re-emerging infections including Zika, Bluetongue and West Nile, there has been a surge in research into the causes and carriers of these diseases. Due to the impact on public health, the economy and animal health and welfare, understanding these diseases has become both a national and international priority.

The need for a common approach to the management, design and operation of UK research facilities was identified by the |Institutes members who raised the issue with the Biosafety Steering Group (BSG). Previous guidance focussed on the requirements of biosafety legislation regarding work with infected animals, but there was no comprehensive or specific guidance available for working safely with infected arthropods.

Given the specialist nature of the work, and following discussions with HSE, it was agreed that the need could be addressed by preparing guidance to supplement and complement the official guidance available and to provide practical guidance for the community.

The project involved a range of different research organisations, biosafety specialists and research scientists from the public and private sectors.

The new guidance includes a range of good practice approaches to containment and control and is based on the real-life experience of those working in these facilities and formalises this in a way so that others can learn and benefit from them.

Acknowledging that there is more than one way to achieve safe working is a key message and means that the guidance can meet the needs of a broad range of users while ensuring work is managed safely and facilitating the delivery of research of national and international importance. The aim of the Institute is to enhance the knowledge, competence and professional development of its members. The Institutes Biosafety Steering Group represents the interests of UK biosafety nationally and internationally.

Making a commitment to Helping Great Britain Work Well demonstrations the willingness of the Institute’s members to share their personal knowledge, skills and experience both among the membership and with academic and scientific colleagues.

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