Managing Biological Materials

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

​​Purpose of this policy

To ensure risks associated with the use of biological materials in the teaching of science are managed appropriately.

Policy

Employees must follow the recommended management and disposal advice for the use of biological materials.

Recommended management advice

This table describes recommended management practices for commonly used biological materials in school science activities.

Item

Recommendation

Animal tissue: contaminated or potentially contaminated

Animal tissue contaminated with an infectious organism, or treated with chemicals known to be environmentally unsafe, must be disposed of at an Environment Protection Authority (EPA) approved biomedical waste incinerator.

Note: To find an EPA-approved biomedical waste incinerator see: the EPA's Industrial Waste Database on the Environment Protection Authority (under the category Clinical and Pharmaceutical Waste and then Clinical and Related Waste) within Other resources

Animals or Animal tissue: uncontaminated

Animals used for dissection purposes that have not been treated with drugs or chemicals must be placed in a leak-proof, sealed plastic container (such as a double-thickness tied plastic bag) with disinfectant solution before being disposed of:

  • in a dumpmaster that will be cleared within forty-eight hours

Note: If the dumpmaster is not cleared within forty-eight hours, the material must be kept refrigerated.

  • in a council tip (landfills) provided that it is covered on the day of disposal.

Note: In country areas, contact the local health surveyor for advice.

Do not:

  • bury animal material on-site
  • dispose of it using an in-sink disposal unit.

Blood lancets

Do not use blood lancets or take samples of blood from students.  Buy prepared blood slides if a microscope examination of blood is required.

Non-pathogenic bacterial colonies

Brightly coloured colonies may be obtained by exposing a nutrient agar plate to the open air for an hour and then incubating it at 25° until colonies appear. However, because a pathogenic colony could grow unintentionally:

  • grow all cultures in sealed disposable containers
  • ensure that:
    - students do not touch bacterial colonies
    - all bacterial colonies are destroyed after use
    - all glassware and instruments used are sterilised after use.

Serratia marcescens

There is evidence that serratia marcescens bacterium acts as an infections agent in a variety of serious diseases, such as pneumonia. It is very resistant to antibiotics.  

Do not use serratia marcescens unless septic techniques are applied.

Related policies

Department resources

For more information see:

Other resources

For more information on the disposal of infectious waste: