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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
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 Animal Worker Medical Surveillance Program, which also a medical review with Employee Health at McCosh Health Center.

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Animal Worker Medical Surveillance Program


All Princeton University faculty, staff and students are required to paricipate in the Animal Worker Medical Surveillance Program if they are involved in the care of vertebrate animals or their living quarters or have contact with animals.  There is no cost to you to participate in this program, which is designed to provide:

  • occupationally-indicated immunizations and preventive health screening
  • clinical evaluation and treatment for individuals with animal-related injuries or illnesses
  • information on zoonotic diseases which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans.
Prior to work with research animals, including field research, and admittance to the animal facilities, you need to:


  • complete this Web training. 
  • contact Employee Health at 258-5035 for an appointment.
  • complete the Initial Health History form.

  • (You will also find a link to this downloadable form at the end of this training.)
  • take the completed form to your appointment at Employee Health at McCosh Health Center.
  • complete the orientation process with the Laboratory Animal Resources manager.

After beginning work with research animals, you are required to participate in interim surveillance:

  • An annual visit to Employee Health and completion of an Interim Health History Form is required for all non-human primate workers, LAR staff and IACUC members.
  • Rodent workers must complete an Interim Health History Form annually. If information provided on the Interim Health History Form indicates the need for an evaluation, rodent users are requested to visit Employee Health for an evaluation.
  • Aquatics researchers, including those who handle fish and amphibians must complete an Interim Health History every three years. If information on the form indicates the need for an evaluation, aquatics researchers are requested to visit Employee Health for an evaluation.

Contact Employee Health at any time for medical review and consultation if you:

    • sustain an injury or illness associated with your work or research with animals,
    • 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, allergies, 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 and IACUC members:
  • 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 (rubeola) vaccine or confirmed immunity (Measles vaccine is provided, if needed.)

Medical surveillance for field researchers may include any of the elements listed above as well as immunizations and prophylaxis based on recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Field researchers who travel internationally will also be registered with iSOS, a medical and travel-security services company contracted by the University to provide care to students and staff who are engaged in University-sponsored research while abroad.

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Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)



    AWRs and PHS Policy both require that institutions conducting 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 for compliance with all applicable regulations. 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 administration of hazardous chemicals, infectious agents or radioactive materials, the IACUC consults with Environmental Health and Safety, 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.  The IACUC membership also includes a veterinarian, several practicing scientists 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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