Safety Services


Controls in Biological Services Units

Below is an introduction to the health and safety controls relevant to working in Biological Services Units (BSUs)


Room: Animals are housed either in open top-cages within ventilated rooms or within individually ventilated cages.  Both are designed to control the amount of airborne allergen but additional measures such as the use of personal protective equipment may be needed.

Local: When animals are removed from their housing, all procedures should be carried out using some means of local exhaust ventilation (LEV) e.g. a microbiological safety cabinet or down-draught table.  Where LEV cannot be used, other appropriate controls may be needed, including the use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), for example tight-fitting face masks.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

BSU personal protective equipment
Exact PPE requirements will vary in each unit, however standard items you will be expected to wear include the following.
  • One-piece coverall
  • Mob cap
  • Gloves (non-latex)
  • Overshoes
  • RPE - either a single-use filtering face-piece mask or a powered airstream helmet/visor

For some units, RPE may only be required in certain rooms or for certain procedures.

Additional control measures

You may need to use additional protection, such as aprons, eye protection or cut-resistant gloves; this should be based on the risk assessment of the activity to be undertaken.  Other types of clothing may also be used to protect the health of the animals particularly in theatres or when working with animals of a defined/known health status.

If you are already sensitised, you must wear RPE whatever the local arrangements as exposure to even very small amounts of an allergen could lead to a deterioration in your condition.

Last updated: Thursday, July 30, 2020