The Animal Hazards Program (AHP) is the occupational health program for personnel caring for, or using animals in research or teaching. The purpose of the AHP is to reduce the human health risks associated with the care and use of animals in research or teaching.
Requirements for the AHP
Requirements for an occupational health program for personnel associated with the care and use of animals are found in the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. A description of the occupational health program must be included in the Animal Welfare Assurance required by the National Institutes of Health.
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) has oversight of the AHP and its implementation. The IACUC makes programmatic decisions based on current occupational health best practices, as recommended by the AHP Committee. The AHP Committee is composed of individuals from various University departments that have expertise in the health risks associated with the care and use of animals. Each unit maintains policies, guidance documents, and standard operating procedures specific to their areas of expertise and responsibility. The AHP functions in deference to unit authority, providing a means of coordination for the complex system.
The Occupational Health Office of the Campus Health Service (CHS) conducts medical surveillance for the AHP, particularly focusing on items 1 and 6 (above). CHS Occupational Health providers use the Risk Assessment Questionnaire (RAQ) as the primary instrument for obtaining information to determine the risk associated with a participant’s animal activities.
Research Laboratory Safety Services (RLSS) administers three specific laboratory compliance programs; radiological, chemical and biohazard safety. Each compliance program is led by a responsible officer or appointed steering committee that grants approval/authorization to those PIs requesting to use regulated hazardous materials under University licensure, registration, permit, or possession. RLSS provides all inclusive services that include publishing required program rules, plans and specific procedures, conducting hazard assessments, performing exposure monitoring, routine on-site inspections, incident investigation, spill response assistance, hazard communication signs and labels, and emergency response and training. RLSS reviews and approves all hazard use listed in IACUC protocols and amendments before work with hazardous materials commences. Worksites are routinely inspected by RLSS personnel to evaluate and ensure continued compliance.
Risk Management Services (RMS) administers the University's overall risk management effort by providing occupational health and safety services/programs and insurance coverage for property, liability, and workers' compensation. Those enrolled in the animal hazard protection program receive support from RMS regarding occupational injuries/exposures, medical surveillance, hazardous waste, facility air quality, fire safety, emergency response, respiratory protective equipment fit test and training, and ergonomics.
University Animal Care (UAC) provides support for items 2, 3, 4, and 5 (above). University Animal Care (UAC) is responsible for overseeing all animal care, husbandry, and veterinary functions for the University. Animal facilities that house traditional laboratory animal species are under the direct control of UAC.
The Basic Occupational Health Care (BOHC) requirements are based on current occupational health recommendations and best practices identified from a number of sources and are used to reduce the health risks associated with specific animal activities. The BOHC requirements are reviewed at least every six months by the AHP Committee. Recommended changes are reviewed and approved by the IACUC prior to implementation.
After reviewing the RAQ, and in accordance with the BOHC requirements, the CHS Occupational Health provider may require a clinic visit. The clinic visit is used to further determine the need for immunizations, diagnostic tests and/or personal protective equipment.
Participants may be periodically recalled for medical follow-up, depending on the type of animal exposure and the BOHC requirements.
While participation in the AHP is required (submission of the RAQ), medical surveillance can be declined. Note that when working with certain species, immunizations, diagnostic tests and/or personal protective equipment are required and cannot be declined.
Personnel choosing to decline any or all medical surveillance must sign the Medical Surveillance Program Declination form documenting an understanding of the risk associated with their declination.
Monitoring of Animal Use Facilities for Hazards
The Animal Hazards Checklist (AHC) is a mechanism to identify hazards in areas where animal activities occur. Different checklists apply to various animal use locations. Locations must be inspected at least annually and the results documented in the AHC. The principal investigator, instructor or supervisor are responsible for ensuring that identified hazards are rectified in a timely manner. The IACUC reviews the AHC during submission of the Annual Status Report.