A biological hazard, also known as a biohazard, is a risk to human health or the environment that is caused by biological work, particularly with microorganisms. These hazards can be composed of bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other microorganisms that can be hazardous to people or the environment. To help workers quickly identify the seriousness of a biological hazard, ANSI Z535 biohazard standards are used around the world. This standard includes color and design elements that are used in hazardous communication signage, labeling, and paragraphs. The term “biological hazard” was first used in 1973 and is derived from the Greek words “bio” meaning life and “hazard” meaning danger.
The biohazard symbol was developed in 1966 by Charles Baldwin, an environmental health engineer who worked for Dow Chemical Company. The symbol is a yellow and magenta circle with a black trefoil inside it. Biohazards can be an unintended side effect of biologists working with or studying toxins or viruses. For example, a biologist may find a biohazard sign next to a yellow one that reads: “No unauthorized entry”, by order of the United States Department of Energy. In some cases, the biologist may find a similar sign but without any indication of biological danger and with a serial number in blue. It is important to use ANSI Z535 biohazard standards properly when identifying biological hazards.
This will help ensure that workers are able to quickly identify the seriousness of a biological hazard remotely and protect themselves from potential harm.