The University of Arizona

Animal Hazards Program

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The University’s Animal Hazards Program (AHP) is the occupational health program for personnel caring for, or using, animals in research or teaching. Its purpose is to reduce the human health risks associated with the care and use of animals in research or teaching. Individuals listed on an IACUC protocol must be registered with the Animal Hazards Program.

Requirements for the Program
Program Components
Participation in the AHP
Exceptions
Medical Surveillance
Declination of Medical Surveillance
Monitoring of Animal Use Facilities for Hazards

Requirements for the Program

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.

Full accreditation with the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International also requires an occupational health program. AAALAC requires compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide; National Research Council), the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (FASS) and the Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals (National Academy of Sciences). Under the Guide, the occupational health program must include:

  1. Hazard identification and risk assessment
  2. Personnel training
  3. Personal hygiene
  4. Facilities, procedures, and monitoring
  5. Personal protection
  6. Medical evaluation and preventive medicine

AAALAC conducts triennial inspections to assure compliance with all applicable occupational health and safety requirements.

Program Components

Animal Hazards Program Committee

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) has oversight of the Animal Hazards Program (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 who 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.

Occupational Health Office

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

Research Laboratory Safety Services (RLSS) administers three specific laboratory compliance programs -radiation, chemical, and biohazard safety. Each compliance program is led by a responsible officer or appointed steering committee that grants approval/authorization to those Principal Investigators 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

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

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.

Participation in the AHP

Participation in the AHP is required for:

  • Individuals caring for, or using, live animals in research or teaching
  • Individuals working with unfixed animal tissues, cells, fluids, or wastes
  • Individuals with environmental contact with live or dead animals

Non-University of Arizona students, consultants, volunteers, or visiting scholars who will be performing animal activities as defined above may also be required to participate in the AHP.

Submit the Risk Assessment Questionnaire (RAQ) found through the Campus Health’s Online Forms Log-in page to start the process for participation. 

Exceptions

The following personnel may be exempt from participation in the AHP:

  • Those only working with fixed or sterilized animal tissues, fluids or wastes.
  • Those only working with commercially available animal tissues, cells or antibodies.
  • Non-University of Arizona staff and students, unless performing animal activities as defined above.

Medical Surveillance

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 (6) 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 Campus Health Service (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.

Declination of Medical Surveillance

Participation in the AHP is required, but medical surveillance can be declined. Note, however, 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 on the relevant checklist. 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 Continuing Review.