Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Purpose

The Guide for the Care and Use of Animals (Guide) ( Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, National Research Council) states that "An occupational health program is mandatory for personnel who work in laboratory animal facilities or have substantial animal contact." All persons who have contact with animals, unfixed animal tissue, or infectious organisms must be made aware of the potential hazards of working with animals and of the procedures available at the university to prevent and treat such hazards. It is the responsibility of the principal investigator (PI) of each Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approved protocol to assure the IACUC that all workers under their supervision (co-investigators, staff, students and volunteers) who have contact with animals have been informed of the potential dangers involved and are aware of the procedures available to prevent and treat such hazards. Completing the tasks laid out in this program will fulfill that responsibility.

All animal handlers must be informed that occupational health services are available through Environmental, Health and Safety Services (EHSS). Animal handlers may:

  • Receive counseling about the availability of pre-exposure vaccines;
  • Have routine tuberculosis testing performed when necessary;
  • Have pre-contact and post-employment serum samples collected for titer evaluation when appropriate; and
  • Receive treatment for symptoms or injury related to animal allergens, bites, scratches, etc.

Any individual who has been bitten or scratched while working with an animal, is experiencing signs and symptoms consistent with a work related exposure to an animal or an infectious organism being studied, or who has a known exposure to a zoonotic disease must report this information to his/her supervisor and to the appropriate health officials (EHSS and any medical personnel providing treatment for the injury/exposure). In addition, the injured employee, or his or her supervisor, must fill out the Employer’s Accident Report.

While an IACUC protocol may be approved before all the requirements of this program are fulfilled, no animals may be ordered for use with the protocol until the PI is in full compliance with the provisions of the program. Furthermore, at each annual review of a protocol, PI's will have to certify that, to the best of their knowledge, all animal handlers working under that protocol are in compliance with the provisions of this program.