The Vice-President (Research and International) has appointed the Carleton University Biohazards Committee to achieve two objectives:

(1) Provide review and oversight of research projects by professionally qualified and independent panel that includes one member from outside science and engineering as required by The Tri-Council Agencies agreement with the University, and;

(2) Promote a culture of biosafety and biosecurity awareness while supporting research and teaching activities.

In addition, the VP has designated an individual as the University Biosafety Officer who will carry out the functions set out in the applicable Federal and Provincial regulations.

The Biohazards Committee reviews research involving the following material:

  • Potentially pathogenic micro-organisms and internal parasites potentially infectious to humans, animals, or plants in research, teaching, and diagnostic/analytical laboratories
  • Potentially infectious cell cultures, tissues, and bodily fluids (e.g. blood, saliva).
  • Zoonosis from research on laboratory animals or from handling wild animals in the field.
  • Immortalized cell lines.
  • Transgenic or genetically-modified micro-organisms which may be hazardous to humans, animals, or plants.
  • Research on transgenic plants of economic or ecological importance.
  • Plasmids, phages, or other vectors which may be hazardous to humans, animals, or other living beings
  • Recombinant DNA which may be hazardous to humans, animals, plants, or other living beings
  • PHAC regulated biotoxins


Containment Level (CL): Minimum physical containment and operational practice requirement for handling infectious material or toxins safely in a laboratory. There are four containment levels.

Controlled activities: Possessing, handling or using; producing; storing; permitting any person access to; transferring; importing or exporting; releasing or otherwise abandoning; disposing of biological material

Compliance: Where any requirement derived from legislation, external policy or institutional policy is met

Stakeholders: Carleton University faculty, employees and students

Toxins: Poisonous substances that are produced or derived from a microorganism and can lead to adverse health effects in humans, animals or plants


The Committee shall consist of regular and ex-officio members, all of whom have voting rights, appointed by the Vice-President (Research and International) as follows:

Regular Members:

  • Minimum two faculty members qualified to review the range of research undertaken at Carleton and selected because of their experience in working with regulated biological hazards including regulated genetic alterations of microbes and plants.
  • One member from an academic department selected because his/her research does not involve the activities overseen by the committee.
  • Minimum one qualified community member.
  • Biosafety Officer

Ex-Officio Members

  • Assistant Director Environmental Health and Safety
  • Member of the Office of the Vice President (Research and International)

Should specific issues arise which require specialized input to the committee, this can be sought from qualified individuals in a Canadian university at the discretion of the Chair.

The Chair will be appointed by the VP (Research and International) and chosen from the committee members.

Terms and Appointments

The term of office including the Chair will be three (3) years. Members and Chair may serve subsequent terms.


A quorum shall be 50% + 1 of the voting membership.


The Committee Chair following review by the Biosafety Officer approves routine applications, and/or the committee as required; the full committee will review all non-routine applications. This business will be conducted by email. Meetings will be held at least once per year or as required. Special meetings may be called at any time at the Chair’s discretion.

Administrative support will be provided by the Office of the VPRI.

Reporting Structure

The Committee is advisory to the Vice-President (Research and International) and will report annually or as required.


The Committee shall:

  • Review new and existing academic research, clinical research, commercially funded research and teaching activities, which describe controlled activities involving infectious materials, organisms and toxins. Such review shall be in the context of relevant Canadian legislation and standards or institutional policy. Such research and projects are deemed to be “approved” when all requirements have been met for working at the prescribed containment level.
  • If required, provide recommendations to the Vice-President (Research and International) in regards to the development of new policies or changes to existing policies that support the responsible management of biosafety and biosecurity. All University activities will be conducted in accordance with the applicable, most current version of the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, Human Pathogens and Toxins Regulations, Canadian Biosafety Standards, and Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, as well as all other applicable federal and provincial acts, regulations, standards and municipal bylaws.
  • Monitor and promote compliance with the applicable regulations and standards.
  • Facilitate compliance of stakeholders where warranted as a result of audit deficiencies.
  • Support the dissemination of biosafety and biosecurity information on a University-wide scale to ensure all stakeholders have access to education and resources appropriate for working safely and in compliance.
  • Review audit reports as provided by the Biosafety Officer for the purposes of measuring compliance of stakeholders with respect to levels of containment and established biosafety and biosecurity policies and procedures.
  • Review exposure reports as provided by the Biosafety Officer for the purpose of recommending follow-up actions and corrective measures.
  • If required, seek consultation with external advisors or other appropriate authorities on subject matters that fall outside the expertise of the Committee.
  • Make the following decisions or perform the following functions:
  • In collaboration with the University Biosafety Officer, review proposed containment level based on a local risk assessment and propose revisions if the project proposal does not match the requested containment level based on a local risk assessment.
  • Create relevant and reasonable local operational procedures or recommend engineering controls based on a local risk assessment if legislated containment levels do not mitigate the risks associated with the project proposal.
  • Review possible actions or situations brought forth by the BSO that may be in non-compliance with the assigned or prescribed containment level
  • The Committee members should:
  • Be familiar with the applicable, most current version of the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, Human Pathogens and Toxins Regulations, Canadian Biosafety Standards, Carleton University Biosafety Manual and Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, as well as all other applicable federal and provincial acts, regulations, standards and municipal bylaws.
  • Attend the Introduction to Biosafety training offered by the Environmental, Health and Safety office, or equivalent.

The Terms of Reference to be reviewed every 3 years, or as required.

Related Documents

  1. Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (S.C. 2009, c. 24). (2009)
  2. Human Pathogens and Toxins Regulations (SOR/2015-44)
  3. Canadian Biosafety Standards 2nd Edition (2015)
  4. Health of Animals Act (S.C. 1990, c. 21). (2015)
  5. Health of Animals Regulations (C.R.C., c. 296). (2015)
  6. Reportable Diseases Regulations (SOR/91-2) (2014)
  7. Plant Protection Act. (S.C. 1990, c. 22) (2015)
  8. Containment Standards for Facilities Handling Aquatic Animal Pathogens (2010)
  9. Containment Standard for Facilities Handling Plant Pests (2007)
  10. New Substances Notification Regulations (Organisms) (SOR/2005-248)
  11. Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1
  12. Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grant and Awards by Research Institutions