These Regulations transpose Directive 2000/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents at work. This is a codified Directive which repealed and replaced Council Directive 90/679/EEC of 26 November 1990 as amended by Council Directive 93/88/EEC of 12 October 1993, Commission Directive 95/30/EC of 30 June 1995, Commission Directive 97/59/EC of 7 October 1997, and Commission Directive 97/65/EC of 26 November 1997.
These Directives were previously transposed in Ireland through the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 146 of 1994) and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) (Amendment) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 248 of 1998). The 1994 and 1998 Regulations are revoked and replaced by these Regulations which transpose Directive 2000/54/EC.
These Regulations enable the publication of some aspects of the Biological Agents Directive (i.e. the list of biological agents and their classification, together with indications concerning containment measures and levels) in a relevant Code of Practice, rather than in the Regulations themselves.
These Regulations define biological agents and apply to activities in which workers are or potentially are exposed to biological agents as a result of their work. Employers must identify the biological agent to which workers are, or may be, exposed. They must assess the risk, making use of the list of biological agents, their classification, containment levels and measures provided for in the relevant Code of Practice, and proceed in accordance with the remaining Regulations where appropriate.
These Regulations permit the Health and Safety Authority to prohibit a specific use of a Biological Agent or request that additional control measures are put in place (Regulation 4).