Occupational Health & Safety Program for Animal Handlers (OHSP)
The University has a multidisciplinary approach to assessing hazards associated with the use of animals and potentially hazardous agents. Animal facilities are designed with engineering controls over potential hazards; operational practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) augment this control. For example, research personnel working in animal facilities are required to wear a clean laboratory coat or disposable gown as minimal protection. Disposable gloves are available in all animal-housing rooms; their use is strongly encouraged during any animal handling activities. Depending on the health status of the animals involved, additional PPE may be required. When research involves the use of hazardous agents, additional PPE may be required, such as additional disposable gowns, masks, shoe covers, and special gloves (e.g., nitrile). Project-specific PPE requirements are outlined in individual Special Animal Safety Protocols (SASPs).
Note, however, that the key component to an effective safety program associated with the use of animals is enhanced awareness by UofL faculty, staff, and students of potential risks. While many activities require general safety training provided by DEHS, such as General Laboratory Safety / Hazardous Waste Training, General Bloodborne Pathogen Training, and Radiation Training, enrollment in the Occupational Health and Safety Program for Animal Handlers, which has been specifically designed for personnel working with animals or in animal facilities, is mandatory.
As discussed in the IACUC policies "Individual Risk Assessment and Medical Surveillance" and "Required Training" enrollment in the Occupational Health and Safety Program for Animal Handlers is mandatory for all personnel exposed to animals or animal areas and must be renewed every three years. This is accomplished via two steps:
Step 1. Training
The primary reference for all personnel working with laboratory animals is entitled, “Occupational Hazards Associated with the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals Health Protection Program for Handling Research Animals,” which is jointly published by DEHS, CPM, and the ORS/RRF. This 6-page brochure (see link below), which is briefly presented directly during IACUC-mandated “Level II Training,” includes information related to animal-related hazards such as allergies, bites, and scratches; zoonotic diseases; physical hazards such as “sharps,” electrical hazards, and compressed gas cylinders; and the use of hazardous agents. All individuals wishing to work independently with animals must read this document and successfully pass a quiz based on its contents.
Click on this link to open/download“Occupational Hazards Associated with the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals Health Protection Program for Handling Research Animals.”
Click on this link to open/download the associated Quiz and Answer Sheet. As instructed, please return the completed Answer Sheet (with your name written legibly in the appropriate box) to the IACUC Office (firstname.lastname@example.org; fax: 502-852-7943; MDR Room-015). You will have successfully completed the Training portion of the enrollment process once a passing score (85%) is achieved and recorded.
Note: Similar to the IACUC-sponsored “Level I Training,” the OHSP also includes an “OHS Level I Training” for individuals that will be exposed to laboratory animals or research facilities on single occasions with no intention of working independently. This consists of a 2-page brochure entitled, “Introduction to Occupational Hazards Associated with the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.” This handout is provided by the RRF to visiting personnel who must remain under the supervision of a Level II trained staff member.
Step 2. Individual Risk Assessment
Your understanding of potential hazards in animals and animal facilities does not prepare you to mitigate risks associated with your personal medical status. Conditions such as pregnancy, immune-suppression, and pre-existing allergies may increase risks of occupationally-acquired illness. Therefore, enrollment in the OHSP also requires completion of a Periodic Animal Contact Health Survey, which allows individualized risk assessment by an OHS physician. PLEASE DO NOT FAX or EMAIL the Periodic Health Survey. Mail ONLY! Thanks.
To open/download the Periodic Animal Contact Health Survey, click HERE. During Level II Training, a specifically-designed envelope is provided and can be made available upon request. Alternatively, please return the Survey to the IACUC Office (MDR-015) in sealed envelope with the participant's name listed (legibly) on the front. Please note that due to potentially sensitive information contained in the survey, the IACUC Office will not open the envelope but will only note its receipt before forwarding on to the Health Services Office. Therefore, it is important that the envelope is labeled with the participant's name and the words "Periodic Animal Contact Health Survey."
Please note: You are encouraged to complete a new Periodic Animal Contact Health Survey if your health or medical status changes in any way. You will be required to submit a new Survey at least once every three years (see Re-Enrollment below).
NOTE: The IACUC provides oversight for enrollment in the OHSP related to animal subjects. IACUC-approved animal use privileges are contingent upon complete enrollment. Failure to re-enroll will result in administrative removal as a participant in associated Proposals and thereby loss of animal use privileges. Failure of Principal Investigator enrollment or re-enrollment will result in administrative inactivation of all pertinent Proposals and thereby loss of animal use privileges for the laboratory. The RRF also assists in monitoring; access into central vivaria is not granted until individuals have completed the enrollment process (i.e., completion of OHS Level II Training and the Periodic Animal Contact Health Survey). The RRF will also be instructed to remove access to animal facilities for individuals failing to re-enroll.
Questions? Email the IACUC - Or phone us at 502-852-6899.