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Health and Safety for Animal Workers


Health and Safety for Animal Workers

 animal workers

training disclaimer


The health and well-being of animals used for research purposes has long been accepted as an obligation of institutions that house and care for such animals.  As mandated by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA),  the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) adopted animal welfare regulations (AWRs) that require good care and monitoring of laboratory animals and informed review and approval of the associated research.  Public Health Service Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) includes further requirements that must be followed by institutions doing PHS-funded animal research. phs policy
guide The National Research Councilís Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals provides guidelines and references for establishment and maintenance of effective programs and facilities for animal research and is widely accepted as the primary reference for animal care and use.   However, in addition to the welfare of research animals, it also recommends an Occupational Health and Safety Program for those working in animal facilities and having exposure to animals.  Based on this recommendation and the fact that PHS Policy mandates such a program, most institutions conducting animal research include occupational health and safety as part of their program. 
An excellent reference for personnel health and safety when working with research animals is the National Research Council's Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals 

Completion of this Web training is intended to be your enrollment into Princeton Universityís Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP) which also includes medical review with Employee Health at McCosh Health Center.

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The Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP)


You must participate in the OHSP if you are faculty, staff, or student and you come into contact with research animals.  The required training and medical review is intended to inform you of the risks associated with your particular animal exposure and how you can best prevent illness or injury.  There is no cost to you or your department to be a part of this Program. 
What do I need to do to get into this Program?
Prior to work with research animals and admittance to the animal facilities, you need to:
  • complete this Web training. computer
  • contact Employee Health at 258-5035 for an appointment.
  • complete section A of the Animal Worker Personnel Information form and the Health History form.

  • (You will also find a link to this downloadable form at the end of this training.)
  • take these completed forms to your appointment at Employee Health at McCosh Health Center.
  • return the signed Personnel Information form to the manager of Laboratory Animal Resources in Psychology [or Molecular Biology], or to Diane Carlino in EEB as appropriate.
  • complete the orientation process with the animal laboratory manager.
After beginning work with research animals, you are required to:
  • complete annually the update questionnaire provided from Employee Health.
  • schedule annually an appointment with Employee Health if you are an animal caretaker or handle non-human primates.
  • contact Employee Health at any time for medical review and consultation if you
    • become injured,
    • feel you are developing an allergy,
    • are planning a pregnancy, or
    • develop health concerns related to your research animal exposure.
Medical review includes:
  • Review of applicable medical history
  • Physical examination, if indicated, to include condition of skin (rashes or psoriasis)
  • Discussion of risk factors associated with animal contact, including potential zoonotic agents, wound care, and potential hazards of field studies.
  • Discussion of the health risk associated with compromised immune system (i.e., cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, steroid use, immunosuppressive drugs after organ transplant)
  • Updating of tetanus-diphtheria immunization, as needed.
For non-human primate workers:
  • Skin (PPD) test for TB initially and annually (chest X-ray for persons who have BCG vaccine or history of a positive PPD test)
  • Proof of measles vaccine or confirmed immunity (Measles vaccine is provided, if needed.)


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Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)



    AWRs and PHS Policy both require that institutions doing animal research have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to review and monitor animal care and use and provide oversight of all aspects of animal research.  The Princeton University IACUC inspects all animal facilities twice a year and reviews the overall animal care program annually for compliance with the AWRs.  Records documenting activities of the IACUC and compliance with AWRs are maintained for review during inspections by USDA and others.

    Meetings of the IACUC are generally held monthly to review new and continuing research proposals involving animals.  When animal research involves infectious agents or radioactive materials, the IACUC consults with the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) or the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) to provide appropriate review and consultation.

    The Princeton University IACUC is chaired by a faculty member and the Secretary is from the Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) who receives and coordinates the distribution and review of written research proposals.  The IACUC membership also includes a veterinarian, a practicing scientist experienced in research involving animals, and a member from the community who is not affiliated in any way with the institution. 


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For a disclaimer and information regarding the use of this page, see the disclaimer notice.
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