Site Biological Safety Officer (BSO)

The Pirbright Institute, Pirbright, Surrey, GU24 0NF
Band F; £48,240-£65,325 depending on experience and qualifications
16 Apr 2018
07 May 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

Site Biological Safety Officer (BSO)

Directorate: Risk & Assurance
Department: Risk & Assurance
Reporting To: Director of Risk & Assurance
Line Manager Responsibilities: Yes

The Pirbright Institute

The Pirbright Institute delivers world-leading research to understand, predict, detect and respond to viral disease outbreaks. We study viruses of livestock that are endemic and exotic to the UK, including zoonotic viruses, by using the most advanced tools and technologies to understand host-pathogen interactions in animals and arthropod vectors. Our major strength in understanding the immune systems of livestock provides a platform to control current diseases and respond to emerging threats.

Our Institute is made up of a dynamic and vibrant community of staff covering a diverse set of chosen fields, backgrounds and experience. We all play a crucial role in furthering the Institute’s aspirations, advancing the frontiers of science and knowledge through our excellent scientific research, knowledge sharing and contribution; with a real focus in improving the world in which we live. Our outlook is always balanced by our strong sense of purpose, values and behaviours and an unwavering commitment to a ‘one Institute’ approach.

Organisation position and purpose

Health Safety & Biosafety (HSBS) at Pirbright is a pivotal part of the organisation, providing excellent levels of service and exacting standards of work in support of the research, diagnostic services and operations of the Institute.

The role of Site Biological Safety Officer (BSO) is critical to provide Pirbright with the expert professional support necessary to comply with biosafety* and biosecurity* requirements under health & safety law and related legislation, to maintain legal authority to operate as a HSE Major Hazard Site under its Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) license, and to facilitate control and mitigation of the high consequence biorisks* arising from its work.

* Pirbright applies WHO definitions:  Biosafety is the containment principles, technologies and practices to prevent unintentional exposure to biological agents.  Biosecurity is the organisational and personal security measures to prevent loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release of biological agents.  Biorisk is the combination of biosafety and biosecurity.

Main duties and responsibility

  • To be the BSO, leading coordination of compliance with Pirbright’s site licence under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order 2008 (SAPO), with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 in so far as they apply to biological agents, with the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2014, and with other legislation applicable to biorisk.
  • As BSO, to ensure development and implementation of all necessary arrangements and processes to ensure suitable and sufficient assessment of biorisk, and ensure that all operational controls to eliminate or reduce biorisk are fully implemented and fully effective, including procedures to monitor such controls.
  • As BSO, to be the leading expert within the organisation on best practice in the management, control and mitigation of biorisk, undertaking all continuing professional and personal development necessary to carry out this role effectively.
  • As BSO, to be the primary point of contact for HSE on all biorisk regulatory matters, including in regard to the SAPO licence and the HSE Major Hazard Intervention Plan derived from that licence, and to host all HSE visits and interactions in relation to SAPO, the Major Hazard Intervention Plan and biorisk, and to remain contactable and available out-of-hours, and to be the final internal authority on any biorisk matter.
  • Line manage Biorisk Advisers as directed.
  • Act as Duty Biological Safety Officer on a rota with Biorisk Advisers, acting as an immediately available source of biosafety assistance and biosafety incident management, covering both working hours and out-of-hours, subject to an agreed allowance for the latter, and remaining contactable and available whilst acting in this role.
  • Provide timely and reliable expert advice on biorisk to all stakeholders, including assistance with preparation of risk assessments.
  • Manage biorisk incidents and carry out timely and effective investigation of such incidents, including root cause analysis.
  • Carry out workplace biorisk inspections, ‘horizontal’ audits on specific biorisk topics, and ‘vertical’ audits of management of biorisk, with timely reporting of findings.
  • Monitor and facilitate implementation of the corrective actions and preventive actions arising from inspection, audit and investigation findings.
  • Develop and deliver effective biorisk training.
  • Contribute as necessary to biorisk aspects of the site development programme.
  • Contribute as necessary to external projects and consultancies involving biorisk.
  • Support the development and implementation of applicable management systems such
    as ISO 45001, and work in conformity to quality management systems such as ISO 9001.

This job description is only an outline of the tasks, responsibilities and outcomes required of the role. The jobholder will carry out any other duties as may be reasonably required by his/her line manager. The job description and personal specification may be reviewed on an ongoing basis in accordance with the changing needs of the Human Resources department and The Pirbright Institute.

All employees shall actively participate in the Institute-wide quality assurance system in conjunction with the Institute’s Quality Manager. Employees are also expected to safeguard their own health and safety and security by following policies and all employees are responsible for the Health and Safety and security of staff under their management.

Personal behaviours

  • Work reliably under pressure.
  • Good time management and able to rapidly adapt priorities.
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • Exhibit tact and exert influence.
  • Problem solving and decision making skills.
  • Produce work to exacting standards.
  • Demonstrate leadership and strategic thinking.

Specific requirements


  • A degree in a bioscience subject, or equivalent;
  • Substantial research or technical laboratory experience;
  • Significant experience of working as a biological safety officer / biorisk adviser that includes experience of oversight of high containment facilities, or of working as a specialist biorisk regulatory inspector;
  • Significant experience of working in close liaison with regulatory authorities;
  • Biosafety qualifications / training (such as ISTR Biosafety Practitioner or demonstrably equivalent experiential learning;
  • Demonstrable ability to deliver high quality work, on time, in fulfilment of team and personal objectives;
  • Demonstrable ability to build good relationships with stakeholders, and to resolve challenges with sensitivity and innovation;
  • Display and apply leadership qualities, and be a respected and credible expert.


  • A PhD in a bioscience subject or similar;
  • NEBOSH General Certificate in Health & Safety, or equivalent qualifications or training;
  • Experience of working in conformity with relevant management systems;
  • Experience of incident management and investigation;
  • Experience of workplace inspections and of auditing;
  • Experience of providing training.

What we offer

  • Generous Group Personal Pension Scheme and life cover (subject to age and earnings)
  • 25 days annual leave per annum, pro rata, plus 10.5 public and privilege days
  • Pirbright gym with subsidised membership
  • Pirbright social club
  • Pirbright Lifestyle Hub (employee discount site)
  • Cycle to work
  • Subsidised staff restaurant
  • Childcare vouchers and a subsidised childcare allowance
  • Free onsite parking

To apply for this vacancy please send a copy of your CV with an optional cover letter to

For more information and to access the full job description, visit Jobs | The Pirbright Institute

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