Anna Lawton is one of the Health Safety and Biosafety Advisors at The Pirbright Institute.
Her job is to provide advice, guidance and training to people to enable them to work safely, and also to protect the wider environment from a release of potentially dangerous pathogens.
The Pirbright Institute exists to study and diagnose viral diseases of livestock animals, playing a role in food security for the future.
The institute is now a world-leading centre of virus diagnostics and research. It has been thrust into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, its scientists working to help with the vaccine program and to carry out some of the critical research.
There are a number of dangerous viruses that are handled at the institute, many of which need to be handled in a specific way. Anna’s role is to help people implement these working methods to make sure that they work completely safely.
My days are very varied, as you can imagine. Some days I might be delivering training on how to safely work with something like liquid nitrogen or hazardous chemical substances; other days, I might be attending high-level committees to present data on important research topics. I also present at conferences, and I spend quite a lot of time delivering advice and guidance to the colleagues to make sure that they can handle pathogens safely.
The Health Safety and Biosafety team at the institute plays a critical role in distilling the legislation that sits behind health and safety requirements, and the biosafety requirements into workable procedures, and advice, training and instruction for the workforce.
It feels amazing to contribute to the science that goes on here. We have world-class scientists that produce amazing work. I really love my role – health and safety had a bit of a reputation back in the day, elbow patches and clipboards, but it’s moved on so much. We now have this very collaborative approach, making sure the workforce actually lead on how to manage risk, and we support them to do that. It’s brilliant.
Last updated: 10 June 2021