Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-139)|
17 MARCH 2008
Q120 Chairman: Who do you report
to? You were saying you have to give critical reports of particular
facilities. Who do those go to?
Dr Logan: Inspectors write a report
following an inspection visit. They will make recommendations
which go back to the organisation.
Q121 Chairman: I did not mean that.
Who collates all that other than yourselves? Is it kept? Does
it go to government ministers? Where does it end up?
Dr Logan: It goes up through HSE,
through our board. Some of that information ends up in the annual
Q122 Chairman: In terms of the government,
in terms of making policy and ensuring there is policy, who is
the responsible minister or department for instance?
Dr Logan: The Department for Work
and Pensions. Lord McKenzie is our responsible minister at the
moment. Briefings between the head of our organisation and Lord
McKenzie will pick up some of these types of issues.
Q123 Dr Gibson: We could find that
information out, I guess, if we wanted, could we?
Dr Logan: Yes, certainly.
Chairman: I have never seen that reported.
Q124 Mr Boswell: Can I turn to the
regulation itself? I am conscious that there is always a complexity
about the detail of regulation as against the general duties within
health and safety principles about keeping a safe environment
and so forth. I am glad you are nodding because I think that acknowledges
it. Are you satisfied that the current regulations, even if they
are not perfect, if they are properly adhered to, are adequate
now to prevent failures in biosafety and biosecurity?
Dr Logan: Are you referring to
the COSHH and the GM regulations?
Q125 Mr Boswell: I am. SAPO is not
in your remit at the moment.
Dr Logan: Inevitably there are
breaches in containment in that people can get infections in the
laboratory. We see a small number every year of laboratory infections.
We see other minor problems, as I said earlier.
Q126 Mr Boswell: They do not arise
from defects in the regulations or maybe ambiguities in the regulations?
Dr Logan: Occasionally there is
a misapplication. You always have individuals working in a laboratory
and sometimes they will do things that they should not be doing.
There may be local rules that say they should not have done something
in a particular way but I think the regulatory system under COSHH
and GM is adequate. The sector generally has a very good health
and safety record over the years.
Dr Coulson: At the moment we are
working on joint inspections with the HSE and we take account
of any advice that we get from them about the premises that are
Q127 Mr Boswell: Given the constraints,
the need to seek a balance and also the point you quite reasonably
make about there being individuals who fail, even if that is at
the level of local instruction rather than within the regulation,
do you feel that there are any gaps in the regulations which at
the moment are covered only by best practice guidelines or the
more general health and safety matters which would benefit by
being covered more prescriptively? The kind of thing we have had
suggestions about would be the keeping of inventories and notification
of missing pathogens for example.
Dr Logan: The keeping of inventories
is something that is quite often raised. At the high containment
level people do tend to keep inventories and particularly now
a lot of the high containment laboratories are covered as well
by the anti-terrorism legislation. The keeping of inventories
is becoming much more commonplace.
Q128 Mr Boswell: On the whole you
find that good practice even though it is not necessarily specified
in the regulation?
Dr Logan: In a very busy research
department keeping inventories can be very difficult, particularly
when people are modifying organisms on a constant basis.
Q129 Chairman: What about notification?
Dr Logan: Notification of?
Q130 Mr Boswell: If there are missing
pathogens, when they are not there when you go to pick them up
and use them?
Dr Logan: To notify they need
to have a decent idea of what was there in the first place which
goes back to the inventory side. We do occasionally have under
the RIDDOR regulations notification of missing pathogens.
Q131 Chairman: Should there be standardised
notification under the new framework or under COSHH? Should you
standardise the way in which you notify? Should it be standardised
in terms of the site or in terms of the organisation? How should
Dr Logan: Under the GM regulations
for example it is much more prescriptive.
Q132 Chairman: You are pulling everything
together. What is your recommendation?
Dr Logan: The political imperative
appears to be that people want to know down to very specific levels
and if that is the case I think it is quite easy for organisations
to provide that informationie, this organisation is working
on these organisms in these particular laboratories at this particular
Q133 Mr Boswell: It is also keeping
Dr Logan: Yes.
Q134 Mr Boswell: If I can chip in
on that, it is a formulation I used with Professor Griffin earlier.
Your approach to bringing together the regulations will be highest
common factor rather than lowest common multiple broadly?
Dr Logan: Yes.
Q135 Chairman: When you are talking
about the organisation, is that what you mean? It is the organisation
that collates it on behalf of an individual lab or an individual
Dr Logan: Yes, absolutely.
Q136 Chairman: I do not know what
would happen at Pirbright where you have the Merial laboratory
and the Institute of Animal Health laboratories on the same site.
Dr Logan: They are two separate
Q137 Chairman: This is organisation,
Dr Logan: It is the body corporate.
Q138 Chairman: Even if the two organisations
share common facilities, which clearly is the case at the moment
and may well be the case in the future given some of the improvements
for instance to the drainage system there, you still are not looking
at making it site specific?
Dr Logan: No. We have been working
closely with Defra to ensure that there is much better liaison
between the two organisations at the Pirbright site, so there
is much better communication but in terms of the way HSE would
traditionally work Merial is a completely separate legal entity
from the Institute of Animal Health.
Q139 Chairman: In terms of a university
where you may well in fact have a number of laboratories which
are working on level three pathogens, it would still be the organisation
which would be the university that you would hold resonsible?
Dr Logan: Absolutely, yes.