Chapter 400: Animal Research

400.010 Health and Medical Surveillance Program for Laboratory Animal Care Personnel

Executive Guideline No. 21, 11-11-83.

  1. Purpose -- This Executive Guideline is intended to provided general direction for the development and maintenance of a Personnel Health and Medical Surveillance Program tailored to the needs of persons whose employment involves frequent contact with laboratory animals. Because of this contact, these individuals may be considered to experience a greater risk of encountering certain health hazards than is the case in the general population. Specific types of hazards of special concern include infectious agents used in experiments or which occur as spontaneous zoonotic diseases in research animals, and toxic or carcinogenic chemicals which may be used as experimental agents on those which are used as detergents, disinfectants, etc., in the performance of animal colony studies.
        In the event that specific known hazards (biologic or chemical) are introduced into areas where laboratory animals are housed or into the animals themselves, then specific additional personnel health or medical surveillance procedures beyond this basic program may be indicated to address hazards presented by the specific agent.
  2. Scope
    1. This program is applicable to all University employees whose work involves frequent contact with laboratory animals defined as follows:
      1. Frequent contact - 20 or more hours per week in laboratory animal housing area or other areas where laboratory animals are manipulated.
      2. Laboratory animals - any animal held in confinement and upon which experimentation is performed.
    2. It is emphasized that the program described herein is basic in that it applies to baseline level of risk experienced by laboratory animal workers. This program is not sufficiently broad in scope nor 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 may be indicated to protect personnel, monitor exposure, and/or facilitate diagnosis treatment in the event of exposure.
  3. Responsibilities
    1. Animal facility directors or the individual in each animal facility responsible for hiring or supervising full-time, part-time, or student labor for animal care will be responsible for seeing that such persons hired or supervised who are at risk be included in the Personnel Health and Medical Surveillance Program.
    2. Principal investigators will be responsible for the development of safety protocols for animal care personnel when their studies impose personnel health risks beyond the routine. To assume appropriate implementation, safety protocols should be worked out in consultation with animal facility directors or supervisors.
    3. Funding of the Personnel Health and Medical Surveillance Program should continue to be the responsibility of the individual campus or UMca unit (as in the case of the Sinclair Farm site). Direct animal care funds such as "per diem" charges should not be considered appropriate for funding of this program, however.
    4. The content of the basic Personnel Health and Medical Surveillance Program will be reviewed annually by the UM system Animal Resources Advisory Committee.
  4. Personal Protective Measures
    1. Protective Clothing
      1. Depending on the level of risks, laboratory clothing and shoes to be worn only at work should be considered for laboratory animal workers to minimize the risk of routine hazardous materials being carried home or to other locations on street clothing. 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. Where such clothing is provided, it should be decontaminated or laundered in University laboratory animal facilities to avoid exposing employees of commercial laundries or others to contaminated garments.
      2. Particle masks and surgical or exam gloves should be available or use by employees and may be required under some situations. These items, if routinely used, will retard the development of sensitivities to allergens of laboratory animal origin and will help reduce symptoms in employees already sensitized.
      3. Eye protection is mandatory when handling concentrated acids, caustics, detergents, disinfectants, and other irritant chemicals.
      4. When known hazards are in use which are beyond those routinely found in the laboratory animal quarters, special protective equipment appropriate to the nature of the hazard should be used.
    2. Personnel Hygiene
      1. Standards of personnel hygiene must be high to protect both personnel and laboratory animals.
      2. Hand Washing - frequent hand washing is necessary. In particular, at the start of the workday, upon leaving work for breaks, meals, or rest rooms, and then when returning to work.
      3. Eating, drinking, and smoking are prohibited in laboratory animal quarters and other areas where laboratory animals or hazardous agents are manipulated.
  5. Medical Surveillance -- The purpose of medical surveillance is to detect persons who may be at higher than normal risks and to detect changes in the state of health of the worker which may be due to exposure to hazardous agents. Therefore, the animal facility director or the program principal investigator will provide the examining physician with a description of the employee's duties which includes the animal species contacted and the toxic, biologic, and radiologic agents under investigation. Following the medical examination, the employer must be provided a written opinion from the examining physician stating whether the employee has any medical condition that would place him at increased risk of material impairment to his health. The physician;s opinion must state the employee has been informed of any medical condition which requires further examination or treatment. The employer must provide a copy of the physician's written opinion to each employee.
    1. Physical Examinations
      1. General physical examinations should be conducted at the time of employment to establish the health status of the individual at that time and to evaluate for exceptional risk due to underlying conditions or disease states.
      2. Physical exams should also be conducted annually during employment. In cases where specific known hazards exist, it may be indicated that the frequency of exams be increased and/or specific diagnostic procedures be added to the general exam.
    2. Reference sera should be maintained and updated routinely for all personnel working with laboratory animals or fresh animal tissues.
    3. Immunizations -- All personnel working with animals should immunized against tetanus. Those working with animals that are raised in other than a laboratory setting should also be immunized against rabies virus. where specific biologic hazards are used against which vaccines, bacterins, or immune sera are available, their use should be considered by the animal facility director, the program's principal investigator, and the physician responsible for the employee health program.
    4. Tuberculin tests should be conducted as a part of the genera physical exam at the time of employment and annually thereafter.
    5. Report of Injuries -- Effective February 16, 1981, the University established the following policy for reporting accidents and supplying the proper medical care. The University, as well as the State of Missouri, requires that all accidents be reported to one's superior immediately (even if one does not feel medical treatment will be required at the time). At that time, the supervisor will complete the Report of Injury form and direct the employee to the appropriate and approved doctor or medical facility. The employee will be given, at that time, a Referral for Medical Care From. The top half of the form will be completed by the supervisor. The employee will then report to the designated doctor or medical facility with the Referral for Medical Care form. Upon arrival at the doctor's office, the Referral for Medical Care form is given t the doctor. This form will act as authorization for the doctor to provide medical treatment. The employee must request that the lower portion of the form be completed by the doctor and given back to employee. The employee will take the completed section of the form back to the supervisor immediately.
          The above procedure must be followed on all accidents, except those of an extreme emergency nature. Emergency cases are those that require emergency treatment immediately, such as severe bleeding, amputation, breathing difficulties, or those injuries requiring immediate hospitalization.

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