Chapter 400: Animal Research

400.010 Occupational Health and Safety Program for Laboratory Animal Care and Use Personnel

Executive Guideline No. 21, 11-11-83; Revised 7-6-16.

  1. Purpose - This Executive Guideline is intended to provide general direction for the development and maintenance of an Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP) tailored to the needs of persons whose employment involves contact with laboratory animals and/or animal tissue. Because of this contact, these individuals are considered to experience a greater risk of encountering certain health hazards than is the case with the general population. Health hazards of concern include development of allergies, physical injury, exposure to cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, and rarely, zoonotic diseases. The goal of the OHSP is to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
  2. Scope 
    1. The OHSP is applicable to all University employees whose work involves contact with laboratory animals and/or animal tissues, defined as follows:
      1. "Contact" is any contact with animals, animal waste and unfixed animal tissues and fluids.
      2. "Laboratory animal" means any University owned animal that is produced for or used in research, testing or teaching.
    2. The OHSP described herein is basic in that it applies to a baseline level of risk experienced by personnel using or caring for laboratory animals and/or animal tissue as part of their assigned job duties. This program is not sufficiently broad in scope or sufficiently detailed to address situations in which specific hazardous agents are used that are known to present specific risks above the routine. In these cases, specific procedures are indicated to protect personnel, monitor exposure and/or facilitate diagnosis and treatment in the event of exposure.
  3. Responsibilities
    1. It is the responsibility of each campus Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to review the adequacy of their OHSP semiannually.
    2. Funding of the OHSP shall continue to be the responsibility of the individual campus. Direct animal care funds such as “per diem” charges are not appropriate for funding of this program.
    3. Individuals (Principal Investigators, facility directors/managers or supervisors) responsible for hiring or supervising full-time, part-time, or student personnel who have contact with laboratory animals, animal waste or unfixed animal tissues or fluids are responsible for seeing that such persons hired or supervised are included in the appropriate OHSP.
    4. Each OHSP shall include the following:
      1. Mandatory training of personnel–regarding occupational hazards associated with the care and use of laboratory animals, including information related to animal-related hazards such as allergies, bites and scratches, zoonotic disease, physical hazards such as sharps handling and the use of hazardous agents.
      2. Risk Assessment–for each individual, to mitigate risks associated with each individual's personal medical status; this will include an assessment of the specific hazards to the individual of the animals and materials used; the exposure intensity, duration and frequency, the susceptibility of the individual to harm, and the individual's history of occupational illness and injury in the specific workplace. The Risk Assessment will also include identification of the necessary immunizations and personal protective equipment for each individual.
      3. Monitoring–on-going monitoring of hazards should occur, including periodic inspections and on-going assessments of risks to determine appropriate strategies to minimize or manage the risks.
      4. Reporting–all incidents/accidents, including "near misses," must be reported to the employee's supervisor.
      5. Operational and day-to-day responsibility for safety in the work place resides with the laboratory or facility supervisor (e.g., principal investigator, facility director or a staff veterinarian) and depends on safe work practices by all employees.
  4. Control and Prevention Strategies
    1. Each OHSP should identify potential hazards in the work environment and conduct an assessment of the associated risks, so as to reduce and manage such risks at minimal acceptable levels.
    2. Personal protective measures should be made available to individuals including but not limited to:
      1. Protective Clothing:
        1. Depending on the level of risks, suitable attire and personal protective equipment should be provided by the University for use in animal facilities and laboratories in which animals are used. Soiled attire should be disposed of, laundered or decontaminated by each facility. Outer garments worn in animal areas should not be worn outside of the animal facilities unless covered. Work clothing must be changed with sufficient frequency to avoid prolonged exposure of personnel to contaminants that have soiled the clothing and to ensure that clothing does not spread contamination within the work place.
        2. Exam gloves should be worn while handling animals.
        3. Eye protection is mandatory when handling concentrated acids, caustics, detergents, disinfectants, and other irritant chemicals.
        4. When known hazards exist which are beyond those routinely found in the laboratory animal quarters or laboratories, special personal protective equipment appropriate to the nature of the hazard should be used. Examples of such equipment include but are not limited to hearing protection, arm protectors, face masks, goggles and respiratory protection.
      2. Personnel Hygiene:
        1. Standards of personnel hygiene must be high to protect both personnel and laboratory animals.
        2. Hand washing and/or Disinfection - frequent hand washing/ disinfection is necessary. In particular, hand washing/ disinfection should occur at the start of the workday, when changing gloves, upon leaving work for breaks, meals or rest rooms, and when returning to work.
        3. Eating, drinking, use of tobacco products, application of cosmetics, and handling or applying contact lenses are prohibited in laboratory animal quarters and other areas where laboratory animals or hazardous agents are used.
      3. Medical Surveillance:
        1. The purposes of medical surveillance are to identify persons who may be at higher than normal risk for exposure related illness or injury, and to monitor for changes in the health of the worker which may be due to exposure to animals or hazardous agents.
        2. The animal facility director/manager/supervisor or principal investigator will provide the occupational health medical professional with a description of the employee's duties which includes the animal species contacted and the toxic, biologic, and radiologic agents to which the employee may be exposed.
        3. The employee should provide the occupational health medical professional with a confidential health history so that an accurate risk assessment can be made and further action can be recommended.
        4. Following the risk assessment, the employee and his/her supervisor must be provided a written report from the occupational health medical professional stating what actions are required to maintain a safe work environment for the employee.
      4. Immunizations
        1. An appropriate immunization schedule should be adopted by each OHSP. Pre-exposure immunization should be offered to employees at risk of infection or exposure to specific agents, such as rabies, tetanus or hepatitis B. Current, applicable vaccine information statements must be provided whenever a vaccine is administered. Each employee's immunization history should be evaluated for completeness and currency at the time of employment and re-evaluated when the employee is assigned job responsibilities with a new hazard. Employees may decline a recommended vaccine but must sign a waiver; employees will not be permitted to decline a recommended vaccine if the employee's failure to get such vaccine places other personnel or laboratory animals at a material risk of harm.
      5. Report of Injuries:
        1. The University requires that all accidents or incidents (including near misses), including but not limited to bites, scratches, allergic reactions or other injuries, shall be reported to the employee's supervisor immediately (even if the employee does not feel medical treatment will be required at the time).
        2. Each campus shall develop its own procedure for handling accidents or incidents; however, at a minimum, each procedure must include a written record documenting the nature of the accident/ incident including date and location, the identification of all persons involved or who witnessed the accident/ incident, including contact information, and the nature of any injuries sustained as a result of the accident/ incident.
        3. The procedure for the handling of accidents shall include an assessment of the need for medical attention.

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