The French labour law dating from 1994 has classified micro-organisms into four categories based on four parameters to define the risk presented by micro-organisms.  This classification is used at the ESRF for the evaluation of samples.  The French labour law also gives a definition for biological agents; any biological element which may cause any allergy, infection or toxicity or can create any hazard to Human health and/or environment.

 Four hazard groups based on four parameters which are:

  • pathogenicity for human
  • danger for worker
  • spreading to community
  • effective prophylaxis or curative treatment available.



Website for micro-organisms classification.

We also use the European Federation of Biotechnologies for their pathogenicity for humans (class 1, 2, 3, 4) and their pathogenicity for the Environment (Groups E) with pathogenicity for the animals (Class Ea1, Ea2, Ea3) and pathogenicity for plants (Class Ep1, Ep2 and Ep3).


Table A
Table B
Table C
Table D

Classification of Micro-organisms proposed by the EFB

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Classification of micro-organisms based on their pathogenicity

Class 1
Contains all micro-organisms never described as causing any human disease and which do not constitute a risk to the environment. They are not even listed in Group E below.

Class 2
Contains micro-organisms that may cause human disease and therefore may constitute a danger for laboratory staff.  Its spreading into the environment is unlikely.  Prophylactic means or curative treatments exist and are effective.

Class 3
Contains micro-organisms that represent a major threat for laboratory staff but a slight risk to the general public.  Effective prophylactic and curative means exist.

Class 4
Contains all micro-organisms that cause severe human diseases and that represent a real danger for laboratory staff and the general public.  Usually no effective prophylactic or curative treatment exist.

Group E (risk for the environment)
Contains micro-organisms that represent a real hazard for the environment and to a lesser extend for human health.  They may be responsible for sever economic loses.  The international and national lists and regulations concerning these micro-organisms already exist in activities other than biotechnology (for example phytosanitary compounds).