This document, together with Requirements for Medical Pathology Services, sets out the minimum standards to assist laboratories preparing policies and procedures for the correct packaging of pathology specimens and associated materials for transportation.

Pathology specimens and associated materials must be transported and packaged in a suitable manner, to:

  • protect the safety of everyone required to handle the specimens and package
  • ensure that the material is maintained under suitable conditions.

The key steps to correctly package and transport pathology specimens and associated materials are presented in this document. To find the information required to package a specimen correctly, follow these steps, referring to the relevant part of this document:
  1. Use the hazard classification guide and flowchart (Section 2, Figure 2.1) to determine whether the specimen is Category A, Category B, Exempt/Category C or another hazard class
  2. Use the matrix in Section 3 (Table 3.1) for the appropriate mode of transport for the specimen
  3. Refer to Section 4 for materials that are not covered by this document.

These Requirements are intended to serve as minimum standards in the accreditation process and have been developed with reference to current and proposed Australian regulations and other standards from the International Organisation for Standardization including:

AS ISO 15189 Medical laboratories – particular requirements for quality and competence

These Requirements should be read within the national pathology accreditation framework including the current versions of the following NPAAC standards:

Tier 2 Document

  • Requirements for Medical Pathology Services
Tier 3 Document
  • Guidelines for Approved Pathology Collection Centres (Requirements for Medical Pathology Specimen Collection)

In addition to these standards, laboratories must comply with all relevant State and Territory legislation (including any reporting requirements).

Please note that any appendices attached to this document may be either normative or informative and should be considered to be an integral part of this document.

The format of these Requirements currently remains substantially the same as the 2007 Edition. It is anticipated that the Requirements will be presented in a more standardised form following the next document review.

There are many types of hazards associated with pathology specimens and associated goods, including biological hazards, chemical and flammable hazards. Some specimens or products may be associated with multiple hazard types.

The overall classification scheme for hazards used in this document is based on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations and the Australian Standard on packaging of biological material for surface transport.

The principle of safe transport of pathology specimens by air or surface methods is the same: the packaged material should not have any possibility of escaping from the package under normal conditions of transport.

Where there are reference materials available, these are listed in the References section of this document.

Please note that all NPAAC documents can be accessed on the Department of Health and Ageing website.

While this document is for use in the accreditation process, comments from users would be appreciated and can be directed to:

The Secretary Phone: +61 2 6289 4017
NPAAC Secretariat Fax: +61 2 6289 4028
Department of Health and Ageing Email: Email the Department
GPO Box 9848 (MDP 951)