» Safety with Animals


[3/12/20, updated]

Research, training, and testing with animals -- whether in the vivarium, classroom or the field -- bring to the forefront inherent risks and hazards associated with procedures and activities.  Both the IACUC and Office of Risk Management/Environmental  Health and Safety at Chapman want persons to be safe and protected.  Being safe is the responsibility of all, beginning with the individual who is actually performing the task.  While equipment like biological safety cabinets (BSCs), masks, and gloves can provide engineered protection, researchers, faculty, students, and others must assess for themselves the identified safety issues and work towards mitigating them collectively.

Below is a relevant section (pp. 18-19) in  the 2011 "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" about "Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment":

"The institutional OHSP (Occupational Health and Safety Program) should identify potential hazards in the work environment and conduct a critical assessment of the associated risks.  An effective OHSP ensures that the risks associated with the experimental use of animals are identified and reduced to minimal and acceptable levels.  Hazard identification and risk assessment are ongoing processes that involve individuals qualified to assess dangers associated with the program and implement commensurate safeguards.  Health and safety specialists with knowledge in relevant disciplines should be involved in risk assessment and the development of procedures to manage such risks.

"Potential hazards include experimental hazards such as biologic agents (e.g., infectious agents or toxins), chemical agents (e.g., carcinogens and mutagens), radiation (e.g., radionuclides, X-rays, lasers), and physical hazards (e.g., needles and syringes).  The risks associated with unusual experimental conditions such as those encountered in field studies or wildlife research should also be addressed.  Other potential hazards—such as animal bites, exposure to allergens, chemical cleaning agents, wet floors, cage washers and other equipment, lifting, ladder use, and zoonoses—that are inherent in or intrinsic to animal use should be identified and evaluated.  Once potential hazards have been identified, a critical ongoing assessment of the associated risks should be conducted to determine appropriate strategies to minimize or manage the risks.

"The extent and level of participation of personnel in the OHSP should be based on the hazards posed by the animals and materials used (the severity or seriousness of the hazard); the exposure intensity, duration, and frequency (prevalence of the hazard); to some extent, the susceptibility (e.g., immune status) of the personnel; and the history of occupational illness and injury in the particular workplace (Newcomer 2002; NRC 1997).  Ongoing identification and evaluation of hazards call for periodic inspections and reporting of potential hazardous conditions or 'near miss' incidents."

Below is an image that includes a list of hazards (e.g., biological, radiological, chemical, non-ionizing radiation, physical, laser) that should be evaluated during a Laboratory Hazard Assessment.

laboratory hazards

Toggle Section