Biorisk assessment

Biorisk assessment: how to protect yourself

Three years after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and with the experience that follows, We are now all aware of how potentially dangerous exposure to biological risks is and how there are working environments where the biological risk is greater than others: laboratories and health facilities present exposure to biological risk quite different from that of an office. Through an in-depth assessment, the sources of biological risks can be identified, the risks involved can be assessed and effective strategies developed to prevent and control their spread.


Biological hazards are infectious agents or other substances derived from living organisms that can cause harm to humans and the environment. These dangers can be present in different forms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. These dangers can be present in different forms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. The risks associated with biological hazards depend on various factors, such as the type of hazard, the route of exposure and the susceptibility of the individual.

Deliberate use of biological agents and potential exposure risk

A biological agent is a microorganism, cell culture, endoparasite that can cause infections, allergies, intoxications. Microorganisms are a microbiological entity capable of reproducing or transferring genetic material. Cell culture is the result of in vitro growth of cells derived from multicellular organisms.

According to the Legislative Decree 81/08 art. 271 there is deliberate use of biological agents when they are deliberately introduced into the working cycle to undergo various treatments and exploit their biological properties. As an example some activities with deliberate use of biological agents are the laboratories of universities and research centers, health, zooctenia and veterinary, pharmaceutical companies. If, on the other hand, the presence of the biological agent is not intentional because it is not a specific object of the activity itself, then we talk about activities that involve a potential risk of exposure.

Transmissibility and vehicles of infection

Biological agents may be transmitted for respiratory (aerodispersi microbes), oral, cutaneous, parenteral (introduction of substances into deep tissues by means of scalpels, needles, scissors and other sharp instruments), via passive vector arthropods (organisms that passively carry pathogenic microorganisms) or active type (for example mosquitoes, lice, fleas).

The vehicles of infection are air (closed and poorly ventilated working environments), contaminated water, soil, hands, blood and blood products.

Types of biorisk assessment

The biological risk is the probability that an individual comes into contact with a pathogenic organism, becomes infected and contracts a disease. There are basically two levels of assessment: assessment of the intrinsic dangerousness of the biological agent and assessment of the risk of infection of exposed workers. In other words, it is both qualitative and quantitative.

Potential biological hazards in a workplace or environment are identified through observations, interviews and literature analysis. The objective is to identify sources of biological risk, routes of exposure and probability of exposure. The level of exposure to biological hazards shall then be quantified. This assessment is based on the measurement of the biohazard concentration and the duration of exposure. The objective is to determine the level of risk posed by biological risk and to develop effective control measures.

Stages of the biorisk assessment

The biorisk assessment process shall include several steps, including the identification and assessment of biological risks, the development of effective control measures and periodic biorisk assessments.

The first phase of the biorisk assessment involves identifying potential sources of biorisk in the workplace or the environment. This assessment shall include an assessment of the likelihood of exposure, the routes of exposure and the consequences of exposure. The assessment shall also include the identification of the subjects most at risk of exposure, such as health professionals and laboratory technicians. Once the risks have been identified, the next step is to assess their severity and probability.

The second phase of the biorisk assessment involves the development of effective control measures to prevent or minimise exposure to biological hazards. Control measures may include administrative controls, such as policies and procedures, and technical controls, such as ventilation systems and personal protective equipment. The effectiveness of control measures should be regularly assessed to ensure that they are still effective in preventing exposure to biological risks.

There is also a third stage, which applies to all risk assessments, with periodic assessments to ensure that control measures remain effective and that new risks are identified and addressed. Regular evaluations should be conducted regularly and the results used to update the risk assessment and control measures. In addition, new employees or changes in working practices must trigger a new assessment to ensure that risks are still properly controlled.

PPE for biological risk

The objectives consist in the reduction of the dangerousness and the exposure also through the use of suitable DPI which:

  • gloves: must be CE marked as PPE and meet the requirements of EN 374 for protection against micro-organisms;
  • disposable masks, masks with filter, self contained breathing apparatus;
  • tyvec suits;
  • goggles and visors: with CE marking as PPE according to the requirements of UNI EN 166.

Biorisk assessment tools and techniques

Biorisk assessment requires expertise in various disciplines, including microbiology, toxicology, and epidemiology. There are several tools and techniques used in biorisk assessment, including:

  • risk assessment checklists,
  • exposure monitoring,
  • air sampling and analysis,
  • sampling and analysis of areas,
  • health surveillance.

The choice of tools and techniques depends on the type of hazard and the environment in which it is present. Air sampling may be more appropriate for the biological risks carried by air, while surface sampling may be more useful for the biological risks present on surfaces.

The assessment of noise risk

Noise risk: methodology for its understanding

Noise is a constant in our daily and working lives: we are constantly surrounded by sound. Some noises can be harmful to our health. Prolonged exposure to high noise levels can cause bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.


The sound is produced by regular and periodic acoustic waves with equal frequency, while the noise is irregular and not
periodicals that cause an unpleasant and annoying sensation.

The assessment of noise risk

Legislative Decree 81/08 art. 189 defines the exposure limit values and art. 190 obliges the employer to assess the noise exposure of workers by considering a number of parameters such as the level, type and duration of exposure, limit values, the effects that noise can cause, direct and indirect effects, existing PPE for hearing protection.

Exposure and action limit values for daily noise exposure and peak sound pressure (art. 189 Legislstive Decree 81/08):
a) exposure limit values LEX = 87 dB(A) and ppeak = 200 Pa (140 dB(C) respectively referred to 20 μPa);
b) higher action values: LEX = 85 dB(A) and ppeak = 140 Pa (137 dB(C) respectively referred to 20 μPa);
c) lower action values: respectively LEX = 80 dB(A) and ppeak = 112 Pa (135 dB(C) referred to 20 μPa).

There are two types of noise: continuous and impulsive. Continuous noise is a constant sound, like the hum of a car. Impulsive noise is a sudden, short sound, like an explosion or a shot. Both types of noise can cause hearing damage. However, impulsive noise can cause more serious damage due to its sudden nature.

More specifically, the noise risk assessment shall consider:

  • emission,
  • spread,
  • reception.


If it is considered during the assessment that the lower action values can be exceeded, the employer must measure the noise levels to which workers are exposed. For measurements it is necessary to use methods and instrumentation appropriate to the characteristics of the noise to be measured, the duration of exposure and environmental factors, in compliance with the specifications of the technical standards. Sampling may also be used, provided it is representative of the worker’s exposure.

You can also consult noise databases, collections of information about the noise level present in certain places or situations. These databases can be made up of a variety of sources, including measurements made by noise measuring instruments, estimates based on mathematical models and reports from citizens and institutions.

The noise assessment process consists of three phases: source identification, noise level measurement and risk assessment. The first phase involves identifying sources of noise at the workplace. The second phase involves measuring noise levels with a sound level meter. The third phase involves assessing the risk of hearing damage based on measured noise levels.

The risk assessment shall take into account the duration of exposure, the individual susceptibility to hearing loss caused by noise and the use of hearing protectors.

Quantification of exposure to noise

To quantify workers’ exposure to noise we use:

  • the equivalent level, measured in dB, of a constant imaginary noise which, if replaced by the noise actually present for the same period of time T, would produce the same total amount of sound energy;
  • the daily noise exposure level means the average value of the noise exposure levels, calculated in a time-weighted manner, during a normal 8-hour working day;
  • peak acoustic pressure (ppeak).

possible scenarios

Not exceeding the value below:

LEX8h <dB(A) – 135 dB(C)
Obligations of the employer:

• risk assessment
Exceeding the lower action value:

LEX8h >dB(A) – 135 dB(C)
Obligations of the employer:

• measurement of exposure levels
• information and training
• health surveillance
• use of PPE
Exceeding of the upper action value:

LEX8h => 85 dB(A) – 137 dB(C)

Obligations of the employer:

• health surveillance
• programme of measures
to reduce noise exposure
• use of PPE
• appropriate signs
Exceeding the exposure limit value:

LEX8h > 87 dB(A) – 140 dB(C)

Obligations of the employer:

• immediate reduction of exposure
• identification of causes
• changes in preventive and protective measures

As can be seen from the table, there are several strategies that can be used to reduce noise exposure, including the use of suitable PPE, noise barriers and roadworthiness tests. PPE, such as earplugs and headphones, can be used to reduce noise exposure. Noise barriers, such as curtains, walls and fences, can be used to block or absorb noise. Roadworthiness tests, such as soundproofing equipment and machinery, can be used to reduce noise at source.

Information and training of workers is essential for effective noise risk management. Workers must be instructed on the risks associated with exposure to noise and trained on the correct use of PPE. The employer must provide regular training on the use of roadworthiness tests and noise reduction measures.

Health surveillance

The health surveillance requirement for the prevention of the auditory effects of noise is activated if the upper LEX action level of 85 dB(A) and/or LCpeak >137dB(C) is exceeded.

If the LEX level of 80 dB(A) is exceeded, health surveillance may be activated at the worker’s request or if the competent doctor considers it necessary to do so.


Exposure to noise can also cause deaf effects on our health. Prolonged exposure to noise can cause stress, sleep disturbance, and hypertension. Noise-induced stress can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in cardiovascular disease.

Work at high with scaffolds

Scaffolds an work at height: practical guide

The scaffold is a type of equipment widely used to provide a stable platform but at the same time to move quickly. It is normally used to deal with some work at height that does not take much time and that must be carried out at a height not particularly high, less than 12 meters.

UNI EN 1004:2021

The use of mobile scaffolding defined by Legislative Decree 81/08 as a bridge equipped with wheels is regulated by UNI EN 1004:2021, in force since December 2021. The standard provides a complete overview of the use of the trabattello and in particular is the reference for:

  • definitions (scaffolding, component, installation, maintenance, etc.);
  • safety requirements for the design, production and use of mobile prefabricated scaffolding. These include load requirements, stability, weather resistance, safe access, fall prevention, etc.;
  • design and production: you will find the specifications of the materials, dimensions and workloads allowed;
  • requirements for installation and dismantling, including assembly procedures, stability checks, protection against electricity hazards, etc.
  • maintenance and inspection: cleaning procedures, stability and operation checks of components, etc.

Then it is necessary to distinguish the scaffolds from the small scaffolds defined and regulated by UNI EN 11764:2019.


Both scaffolds and small scaffolds are classified according to the following factors:

  • Load class: For bogs the load classes can be 2 and 3 respectively with a uniformly distributed load of 1,50 and 2,00 kN/m2. For small scaffolds the maximum load is 150 kg including a single worker, equipment and material.
  • classes of use: there are only two or inside or in the sternum and in turn imply respectively the absence or presence of wind.
  • height classes :
    • scaffolds can have class H1 ≥ 1,85 m or H2 ≥ 1,90 m;
    • small scaffolds h < 2 m o 2 m ≤ h < 4 m.
  • access classes:
    • access type A: ramp staircase,
    • type B access: staircase,
    • type C access: inclined ladder,
    • type D access: vertical ladder.
  • Access mode: for normal trabattelli you can access it from the outside or from the inside. Outside access is allowed if the highest height is less than 2 m. For the small scaffolds the modalities of access are classified as follows:
    • Type E access: outside,
    • Type I access: inside,
    • EI type access: outside and inside.

Designation and label

Scaffold in accordance with UNI EN 1004:2021 must have its designation in which the following information and indications are indicated:

  • the product: scaffold,
  • the reference to the standard: UNI EN 1004:2021,
  • the load class: 2 or 3,
  • the maximum height outside and inside: 8 and 12 m,
  • access classes: A, B, C or D for trestles with a single type of access; ABCD if there are four types of access; or if there are two accesses, the missing ones must be indicated interspersed with an X (for example if the accesses are B and D with XBXD),
  • height classes: 1,85 m (H1), 1,90 m (H2).

The label of scaffold visibly placed must indicate the designation, the name of the manufacturer, the words “read the instruction manual”.

The small scaffold similar to the scaffold must have in its designation the same indications according to UNI EN 11764:2019. The label is also similar.


Once mounted or transformed the scaffold must be equipped with a visible sign with some essential minimum information:

  • name of the supervisor,
  • assembly date ,
  • load class,
  • if the scaffold is ready for use,
  • if the scaffoldis exclusively for indoor use.

Scaffold choice

The scaffold choice must be made considering different aspects such as the dimensions of the scaffold, whether the work is to be done indoors or outdoors, whether there is wind or not, the load class, the type of access, if the loads are horizontal or vertical as they can destabilise the trap itself, the conditions of the ground, the possible use of stabilizers, external projections, ballast or if there is a need for anchorages.

the greatest risks

The greatest risk is represented by the fall of the operator, who can fall both during the assembly or disassembly phase, and during the work at height, but also during the ascent and descent between the various bridges.

During assembly/disassembly, the risk of manual handling of loads is present because these phases require the handling of prefabricated frames and boards for assembly.

Accidental dropping of material such as tools or other objects can occur while performing work. The presence of tools or other obstacles on deck planes can cause the worker to slip or stumble and fall with the risk of accident.

Risks associated with moving the scaffold

There is also the investment risk: you have to pay attention also in the displacement of the scaffold to avoid investing any other workers on the path. Shocks can occur with electrical cables or structural elements such as beams, bridge cranes or other suspended elements, causing the possibility of electrocution or damage to the worker involved.

Rollover risk

Overloading or incorrect positioning or the absence of stabilizers or anchoring can cause the overflow to overturn and workers to fall.

The oscillation of the scaffold can be due to an ineffective locking of the wheels; oscillation that would be amplified by the presence of load on top.


Accurate inspection of the metal components allows optimal maintenance. It must be carried out by qualified personnel and in particular it must monitor:

  • surface layer,
  • state of wear and corrosion,
  • state of the welds,
  • status of moving parts,
  • state of screws, pins, nuts, bolts, rivets.

While for the maintenance of the wooden components you must check:

  • presence of cuts or abrasions,
  • usury,
  • damage caused by heat or aggressive substances,
  • deterioration caused by sunlight.

These checks must take into account the frame, the diagonals, the currents, the intermediate and thermapidal protection, the access openings, the decks, the wheels, the stabilizers and the feet.

Documentary aspects and training

The mandatory instructions must be provided by the manufacturer and are indispensable for the correct assembly, disassembly and transformation of the scaffold. For this last phase, the transformation, we mean the transition from one configuration to another, if allowed by the manufacturer for the single model.

Before proceeding with the installation of the scaffold, it is of fundamental importance to carry out an inspection of the site chosen from the assembly to verify the soil conditions, the slope, any obstacles, weather conditions, possible presence of overhead power lines.

Scaffolds should not be marked CE because there is no product directive.

Often when we speak of scaffolds we also speak erroneously of PIMUS (Assembly Plan, Use and Disassembly), but it refers exclusively to the scaffolding itself and not to the scaffolds.

Finally, a mention of the training that is not necessary in itself for the use of the scaffold, but for the type of work that takes place in it or work at height as required by Legislative Decree 81/08. In any case, the workers in charge of the assembly, disassembly and transformation of the scaffold must be trained to the task in accordance with Legislative Decree 81/08.