Hazard Biological materials
Knowledge and understanding
Understand all associated hazard knowledge
See National Operational Guidance: Operations - Health, safety and welfare
The risk to emergency responders from exposure to biological hazards should be considered high at incidents involving transport. The potential for large number of casualties, rural locations, hazardous material cargo and the presence of toilet waste retention systems increase the risk to responders.
Most modern modes of transport designed to carry passengers are constructed with toilet retention systems. These tanks may hold a significant amount of human waste which could be released if a tank fails and there is a possibility these tanks may not always be in obvious locations.
Modern trains are designed and constructed with toilet retention systems. These tanks are generally not emptied for four to five days and means that more than 400 litres of stored human waste could be released if a tank fails.
The tanks may be located inside the vehicle due to lack of space on the underframe. Older trains may still deposit human waste along the tracks. These vehicles are progressively being phased out by replacement or refurbishment, but will remain in significant numbers until possibly 2030. This can attract rats, and the risk of Weil's disease (leptospirosis) should not be overlooked, nor should other associated diseases or infections.