Hazards and Exposures When Working with Animals
Bites and Scratches
All animal bites and scratches must be treated by washing with clean water and soap and reported to your respective supervisor and to Employee Health. Special procedures for response to macaque bites and scratches are described in the Zoonoses section of this program.
Scratches, scrapes, and injuries from soiled or contaminated
equipment associated with animal care and housing, such as
cages, can be as great a risk as direct animal contact and should be
Animal bites and scratches that cause minor skin damage are sometimes
disregarded by animal workers who are unfamiliar with a number of diseases
that can be spread by such injuries. You should keep in mind that even
minor bites and/or scratches can result in infections and illnesses
if they are not properly treated.
|The most important thing you can do to
prevent infection following any bite, scratch, (or puncture
from sharps exposure as discussed below) is to immediately and thoroughly
wash the injury with soap and water.
Inform your supervisor and contact Employee Health
at McCosh Health Center for medical consultation or treatment.
Another physical hazard is exposure to sharps.
Sharps such as needles, broken glass, syringes, pipettes, and scalpels
are all commonly found in animal facilities and laboratories.
You should use extra care to avoid inadvertent contact and injury. Recapping of needles, a common cause of needlesticks, is prohibited at Princeton Univeristy.
represent substantial risk for you to become infected especially
when injecting animals with microbial agents or drawing blood.
|Your lab should have puncture-resistant
and leak proof containers for disposal of sharps. To prevent
needle sticks, it is critical that you always
place used needles directly in to the sharps container without recapping
or any attempt to bend, shear, break, or remove the needle from
Lifting and Handling Heavy Loads
Animal care operations involve a number of activities that can cause
physical stress when handling and moving heavy loads. The use
of proper lifting techniques can help prevent injuries to your back
and shoulders when moving cages, bags of feed and bedding, pieces of
equipment, and supplies. Poor physical fitness, obesity, poor posture,
smoking, and medical/physical deficiencies are personal factors that
may contribute to back pain. When lifting heavy loads, you should
avoid sudden movements and use a two-handed lifting technique.
Keep your back straight, feet positioned apart with one slightly ahead
of the other, and knees bent as the lift is completed. Reduce
loads where possible and get help when lifting awkward loads or those
that cannot be handled safely by one person.
involved in the care and use of research animals must be familiar with
the chemical hazards associated with
the animal care and laboratory environment.
Activities such as perfusions which involve the use of formalin solution or administration of halogenated anesthetics such as isoflurane all pose the potential for overexposure to hazardous chemicals. Additionally, some animal research protocols involve the preparation and injection of hazardous drugs, such as chemotherapy agents, biological toxins or other acutely toxic chemicals, into animals.
Staff from EHS are available to help assess your risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, but a few general rules apply:
- All research staff who work in laboratories must attend Laboratory Safety training, provided by EHS. This training program provides an overview of the safe storage, handling and disposal procedures for hazardous chemicals.
- When conducting perfusions or administering halogenated anesthetics, such as isoflorane, always work at a ventilated downdraft table, in a chemical fume hood, a fully exhausted biosafety cabinet (available in the procedure rooms of the PNI rodent housing facilities) or work under a point source exhaust (snorkel ventilation) in the laboratory.
- EHS has established guidelines for minimizing exposure when administering hazardous chemicals to animals. Guidelines can be found on the EHS and Research Integrity and Assurance websites.
- If your research protocol involves injection of a hazardous drug into an animal, you are responsible for:
- notifying EHS and LAR prior to start of injections
- labeling the animal cage with chemical hazard labels, available from LAR
- placing a chemical hazard sign, available from EHS, at the entrance to the animal housing room
Administration of recombinant and synthetic nucleic acid molecules, microorganisms and viruses to animals requires prior approval from both the Institutional Biological Safety Commitee (IBC) and the IACUC.
There are four levels of containment, known as Animal Biosafety Levels
(ABSL) that provide increasing levels of protection when
working with biohazards. Each level has recommendations for practices,
safety measures, and facility design that will control the biological hazard involved. The levels range from ABSL 1 to ABSL 4. Princeton University does not have facilities to accommodate ABSL 3 or 4 research.
ABSL 1 containment is for animals exposed to materials that are not known to consistently casue diseases in healthy adults. Standard animal care and management practices, use of standard PPE required to enter the animal facility, hand washing and standard animal housing and procedure rooms are required.
ABSL 2 containment is for animals exposed to agents associated with human disease that pose a hazard through percutaneous injury, ingestion or mucous membrane exposure. Biohazard warning signs must be posted, potentially contaminated waste must be autoclaved or disposed of through the regulated medical waste stream, airflow into housing rooms should be negative, hand washing sink is available, containment equipment, such as biosafety cabinets, for changing soiled cages, is available. Additional PPE, other than that required to enter the facility may be recommended. Since percutaneous injuries are a primary concern with BSL 2 materials, the use of sharps must be evaluated and eliminated if possible.
If your research protocol involves administration of a biohazard into an animal, you are responsible for:
- notifying EHS and LAR prior to start of research with biohazards
- labeling the animal cage with biohazard labels, available from LAR
- placing a biohazard sign, available from EHS, at the entrance to the animal housing room
- conducting the research in accordance with the IBC's containment recommendations.
The administration of radioisotopes to animals and the use of energized equipment such as X-ray machines, is overseen by the University's Radiation Safety Committee and monitored by the Radiation Safety Officer. Research with radioisotopes or energized equipment may not begin until you have permission from the Radiation Safety Officer.
Return to Top
Antibiotics and Controlled
When using antibiotic materials, procedures should
be adopted that minimize release os airborne materials and skin
Of particular concern are releases of penicillin-type (or other)
antibiotics during syringe-loading from multi-dose vials. Persons
who have had previous exposures and have developed sensitivity
can quickly go into anaphylactic shock after inhaling a mist of
material. Be sure to handle these materials with caution and according
to use directions. Use and caution inserts for each antibiotic
provided in the product packaging and should be read and understood
prior to use.
The purchase, use and disposal of controlled substances in New Jersey are strictly regulated by the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs and the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (NJDEA). These regulations are intended to prevent diversion of controlled substances.
Environmental Health and Safety holds the responsabilty to ensure that researchers planning work with controlled substances are aware of and understand their responsibility for complying with the relevant state and federal statutes and regulations governing the use of these substances whether for veterinary care and laboratory research applications.
Approval for Controlled Substance Use at Princeton
Researchers may request authorization to use controlled substances by applying to EHS. Once the application is reviewed and approved, EHS will add the approved principal investigator to the Controlled Dangerous Substances Inventory System as an approved CDS user and indicate each substance for which the lab has been approved.
Controlled substances must be stored in substantially constructed, double-locking boxes that have been mounted on a wall or bolted into a laboratory bench drawer. Locked drawers alone do not provide adequate security for storge of controlled substances.
Detailed instructions for recordkeeping are available on the EHS website. It is the Principal Investigator's responsibility to maintain complete and accurate inventory records for all controlled substances. The records must be kept separately from other documents, in the primary work area and be available for inspection during regular work hours.
Controlled Substance Receipt Records must be maintained for each controlled substance.
Use of Controlled Substances
- A separate and current record (Controlled Substance Use Form) for the storage and use of each controlled substance (use meaning to administer, dispense, professionally use, or otherwise dispose of) must be kept for each separate container.
- The Controlled Substance Use Form indicates the Principal Investigator name,date, building and room, unique identification number assigned, type, strength and quantity of each controlled substance container.
- Laboratory staff must note starting volume or mass of substance in the container and each subsequent use.
- Each record of use must be initialed by the person working with the controlled substance.
- When container is empty, a copy of the usage log should be emailed to EHS.
Managing Expired Controlled Substances
- The Researcher is responsible for notifying EHS of expired controlled substances. Upon receipt of this notification, EHS schedules a drug destruction, to be witnessed by a Department of Public Safety (DPS) commissioned police officer. Drug destruction is scheduled as soon as a DPS commissioned police officer is available. For Schedule II drugs, destruction is scheduled upon receipt of permission and written authorization from NJ Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Expired drugs shall be marked by the researcher as follows:
- “Expired – Do Not Use”
- Date that drug was labeled as expired
- Initials of person labeling drug as expired.
- Expired drug shall be placed into a sealable plastic bag. Bag shall also be labeled as “Expired – Do Not Use”, with a date.
- Labeled, sealed bag must be placed into the laboratory’s locked controlled substance box.
- Upon destruction of expired drug, researcher documents date of destruction on the Controlled Substance Usage Log. The Usage Log and the drug vial contain the same unique number, assigned upon receipt of the controlled substance by EHS.
- A copy of the controlled substance usage log reflecting destruction date is submitted by the researcher to EHS. EHS then removes the drug from our electronic inventory.
Return to Top