Creation of a database of biological substances

Project No. IFA 1120


completed 08/2014


Many biological substances (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites) are used intentionally, for example in laboratories or production, or are caused by processes. Workers may also come into contact with biological substances unintentionally. This contact may present considerable hazards, which must be controlled safely. Biological substances must therefore be included in risk assessments conducted at numerous workplaces in a range of industrial sectors, and also in public institutions such as universities and institutes of higher education. A high level of information is necessary for this purpose. In the past, such information has been scattered across different media. The new database of biological substances is intended to make this information accessible and searchable online in a uniform structure, around the clock and from any location. The new database of biological substances will support employers in complying with the German Ordinance on biological substances, and is at the same to be available as a source of public information on hazards and protective measures. It will therefore make an important contribution to protecting the health of workers and the public.


The database of biological substances was set up as part of the successful GESTIS databases maintained by the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA). The data were generated jointly by the IFA, the BG RCI and external experts.


The GESTIS database of biological substances was presented to the public in May 2014 at the biological substances conference of the committee for biological agents (ABAS). It contains classification data on over 10,000 viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites, and information on safety and health safeguards during tasks intentionally involving these biological substances. Complete biological substance data sheets and data sheets on tasks during which unintended exposure occurs (as in the waste management industry, health services, agriculture) will be developed successively in co-operation with external experts.

Last Update:

16 Dec 2014


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
  • Berufsgenossenschaft Rohstoffe und chemische Industrie (BG RCI)
  • Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • Berufsgenossenschaft Rohstoffe und chemische Industrie (BG RCI)
  • Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS)

consultancy, planning

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards, biological agents


biological agents, risk assessment, information system

Description, key words:

database, biological substances