Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)
Terms of Reference
The University of Toronto Institutional Biosafety Committee is charged with ensuring that all activities within the University of Toronto involving infectious biological agents, toxins, recombinant DNA and genetically modified organisms are conducted in a safe manner and in conformity with generally accepted standards. The term “infectious biological agents” excludes biological agents of a strictly chemical nature, but includes viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and other organisms/genetic systems that, by virtue of their replicative properties, are potentially harmful to humans and/or other living systems. Toxins are listed in Schedule 1 or in Part 1 of Schedule 5 of the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act.
The University affirms that the primary responsibility for the safety and security of staff, students and the public lies with the principal investigator using or authorizing the use of such agents. In addition, the University (through the members of the Governing Council and senior administrators) acknowledges a responsibility to provide a policy and procedural framework designed to ensure that work is being conducted safely and in conformity with the relevant Acts and regulations.
The Governing Council has delegated to the President, and through him or her to the Vice- President, Human Resources and Equity, the responsibility for approval of regulations and actions with respect to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act and Regulations, the Health of Animals Act and the Environmental Protection Act. The Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, has delegated to the University Biosafety Committee and its Chair, the following functions, powers and duties:
- To develop and promulgate safety standards for the conduct of research and teaching involving regulated and or infectious biological agents, toxins, recombinant DNA and genetically modified organisms by members of the University;
- To specify training requirements and to promote the training of all personnel working with infectious biological agents, toxins, recombinant DNA and genetically modified organisms;
- To take all reasonable steps to ensure that research and teaching activities of members of the University involving infectious biological agents, toxins, recombinant DNA and genetically modified organisms are following procedures that are in compliance with the requirements of the University and any relevant guidelines or legislation;
- To advise the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity and the Vice President, Research and Innovation, who holds the licence for the university under the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, on the needs of the University community for biosafety and biosecurity facilities, policies and programs;
- To decide upon requested reviews of decisions resulting from the refusal to grant a biosafety certificate or from the withdrawal of a biosafety certificate by the Chair or his/her designate or the stoppage of research work considered to pose an undue biosafety or biosecurity risk by the Biosafety Officer. The participants in the original decision will not participate in the reviews, which will be chaired by the Vice Chair or other Committee member.
- To approve and issue Biosafety Certificates, at the appropriate biocontainment level(s),for all uses of infectious biological agents within the University;
- To appoint local biosafety coordinators to assist in carrying out the mandate of the Chair and the Committee;
- To consult with the Senior Biosafety Officer in order to ascertain whether an investigator is in compliance with any applicable regulations, guidelines or safety and security standards. This may occur whenever it is believed or complained on reasonable grounds that any breach thereof or other safety hazard may have occurred or be occurring;
- To withdraw the Biosafety Certificate related to any work that is considered to pose an undue biosafety or biosecurity risk and to consult with the Senior Biosafety Officer on whether to require the immediate cessation of that work;
- To delegate the approval and withdrawal of Biosafety Certificates and the consultation with the Senior Biosafety Officer for investigation of compliance to the Vice-Chair or another member of the Committee when necessary due to absence or illness or conflict of interest;
- To sit on the search committee for the appointment of a new Senior Biosafety Officer to ensure that the candidate is suitable for his or her enhanced responsibilities under the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act.
- To report promptly to the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, for transmittal to the Business Board, any instances under the jurisdiction of the Committee where:
- an order is issued by the relevant Ministry or any other regulatory authority and there is not full compliance within the specified time;
- employees refuse to work for reason of danger to their health or safety; or
- any other significant event occurs where the Business Board should be informed to enable it to perform, on behalf of the Governing Council, its responsibilities pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, the Environmental Protection Act or any other applicable legislation;
- To represent the University externally on matters relating to biosafety;
- To submit, on behalf of the Committee, by March 31 of each year, an annual report to the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity on the activities of the Chair and the Committee, for transmittal to the Business Board.
Dated: February 2016
BIOSAFETY COMMITTEE STRUCTURE
The Chair is appointed by the Vice-President, Administration & Human Resources for a 3 year (renewable) term. The Chair shall be a senior academic with extensive experience in working with biohazardous agents. The Chair shall be an ex officio member of the Senior Management Committee on Health and Safety.
The Vice-Chair is appointed by the VP-HR on the recommendation of the Chair for a 3 year (renewable) term. The Vice Chair performs the duties of the Chair when necessary due to absence or illness or conflict of interest.
Members are appointed by the Chair for a 2 year (renewable) term. They are selected from the academic community of the University on the basis of their physical location and experience in working with biohazardous agents. Their function is to assist the Chair in all matters relating to biosafety and biosecurity within the University. Individual members may also be appointed as Local Biosafety Coordinators, with authority over specific geographical regions of the University or special areas of concern. Responsibilities of the Local Biosafety Coordinators include ascertaining that all teaching and research programmes within their jurisdiction meet the required biosafety standards of the University, primarily by reviewing Biosafety Certificate applications. To avoid conflicts of interest, the Chair and Local Biosafety Coordinators do not sign their own Biosafety Certificates or, when applicable, those of their supervisors or researchers sharing the same laboratory.
The Committee shall also contain at least one member whose work is completely unaffected by considerations of biosafety. This stipulation is met by the presence of Community Members.
Ex Officio Members
Ex officio members include University staff and administrators whose responsibilities include the implementation and maintenance of biosafety standards and regulations. They are full voting members of the Committee. Ex officio members include:
- Director, Environmental Health and Safety
- Associate Director, Environmental Health and Safety
- University Senior Biosafety Officer
- Associate Vice-President, Research (Oversight and Compliance)
- Occupational Health Nurse
- Occupational Health Physician
The principal function of Associate Members is to provide a source of expertise that can be called upon when appropriate and under specific circumstances. They may be appointed from within or outside of the University community, and are selected by the Chair on the basis of their special expertise in matters relevant to biosafety. They include relevant staff and administrators of the EHS Office, such as Health and Safety Officers. They may attend, and participate in, but not vote at committee meetings.
Adjunct Members are intended to permit liaison in biosafety matters between University-affiliated hospitals and research institutes. They include Chairs, or their representatives, of the local hospital/research institute biosafety committees. Adjunct members are non-voting.
The responsibilities of Adjunct Members include ensuring that, within their jurisdiction, all research and teaching carried out by University appointees meets the required biosafety standards of the University.
The Committee shall meet at least twice per year. The Committee shall keep minutes of meetings with a copy to be sent to the Senior Management Committee on Health and Safety.
A quorum shall be a majority of the voting members and over half of the academic members.