Environmental Health and Safety


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 (EHS) if they perform work in a 'covered capacity'. 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.

'Covered capacity' means those persons who are an employee of the university (faculty, staff or wage), who perform animal-related activities while being paid on stipend, or who otherwise work in an 'employee-like' role. 'Employee-like' would include volunteers and students who are performing work on behalf of the university, are being directly supervised by a university employee, and who can be dismissed for cause. 'Employee-like' does not include students involved in educational-related activities, including students in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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 (EHS and any medical personnel providing treatment for the injury/exposure). In addition, the injured person, or his or her supervisor, must fill out the Employers' Accident Report if the individual is an employee of the university.

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.