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IACUC Occupational Health & Safety

Enrolling in the Research Occupational Health Program

The Research Occupational Health Program (ROHP) provides medical monitoring for Liberty University employees whose job duties present specific, potential health risks. The monitoring performed helps the university assure that the controls that are being used to reduce employee exposure to these health risks are actually working as intended. This is accomplished by verifying that employees are not showing medical signs or symptoms of exposure.

Program Goals

  •  Provide necessary health screenings, vaccinations and titers for individuals who have substantial animal contact or work with infectious agents including bloodborne pathogens.
  • Support university compliance with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, Centers for Disease Control standards and other authorities requiring medical surveillance.

Program Implementation

  • This program is prepared by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and is reviewed and approved by the Director Environmental Health and Safety, the Safety Program Manager, Human Resources and the Associate Vice President of Security and Public Safety under the department of Human Resources.
  • Once  enrolled in the occupational health program, you will receive an annual reminder to re-certify your health status by completing the health status renewal form.

Hazard Analysis & Control

  • The EHS department will utilize the hierarchy of controls to either eliminate or reduce the risk as much as possible. Elimination of a hazard is always the primary goal.
  • When a hazard cannot be eliminated, then substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment must be considered to eliminate or reduce the hazard.

Enforcement & Compliance

  • As part of the process of this plan the EHS department works with the IACUC to plan, implement, and coordinate loss control measures to reduce or eliminate occupational injuries or illnesses in the vivarium or animal laboratories and facilities.
  • The EHS department conducts facility inspections on a reoccurring basis to ensure that  control measures are both adequate and being followed.

Medical Examination & Health Surveillance

Medical Examination

Animal users on NIH-supported protocols must enroll in the occupational health program using the above link. The health screening questionnaire must be completed and reviewed by a healthcare provider. If you are cleared to work with animals, a clearance form will then be sent to the IACUC and EHS office. Currently, health screening questionnaires are to be reviewed by Physician’s Treatment Center. Please note, your department is responsible for any costs associated with the examination, including any necessary vaccinations.

Health Surveillance

The designated healthcare provider may recommend an annual follow-up examination. This process is similar to the initial medical examination and is designed to protect you as you work with animals in the lab. If you are asked to complete an annual examination, please complete and submit the below screening form.

Reporting

In the event you are injured while working with animals, immediately take steps to resolve the situation. This may involve immediate medical care for bites and scratches or if necessary, emergency medical care. In all cases, workplace injuries must be reported to your immediate supervisor and Human Resources.

Occupational Health & Safety Information

The below information provides you with additional details about how to be safe while working with animals at Liberty University. All animal use personnel are expected to be familiar with the occupational hazards associated with animal research, teaching, and testing activities.

 
Allergies
Zoonotic Disease
Immuno-compromised Individuals
Animal-Specific
General Lab Safety

Knowledge of general laboratory safety considerations is especially important when working with animals. The below publications provide additional details regarding how to be safe in the laboratory.

Zoonotic diseases are capable of being transmitted between humans and animals.

  • They often do not cause obvious signs and symptoms in one species but may cause significant illness in another species.
  • Over 150 diseases may be classified as zoonotic.
  • Many of these diseases are of great concern and include Rabies, Herpes B Virus, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, Q fever and Cat Scratch fever.

Laboratory Animal Allergy (LAA) reactions are among the most common conditions affecting the health of workers involved in the care and use of research animals. It is a significant occupational health concern for many animal attendants, staff, scientists, and technicians engaged in the care and use of laboratory animals.

  • LAA is a hypersensitivity reaction from exposure to a laboratory animal or its fur, dander, urine, saliva, or other body tissues.
  • The nature and intensity of the symptoms are dependent on the level of exposure to the laboratory animal allergen by the individual.
  • Once the worker has been sensitized, symptoms generally occur rapidly (within minutes) of exposure.
  • Continued daily exposure can result in chronic symptoms that may require daily treatment. Individuals with a history of asthma or allergies to pollens, animals, or cigarettes are at greater risk of developing sensitivity to laboratory species.

Several species of animals commonly used in animal research and teaching  frequently cause allergic reactions in people. Among these species are the cat, rabbit, rat, mouse, dog and horse.

  • Proper use of PPE can greatly reduce the allergenic effects of these species in sensitive persons.  In addition, use of PPE can prevent sensitization in someone who is not currently allergic to laboratory animals.
  • Contact EHS for guidance on the use of PPE to mitigate or prevent allergic reactions to the animals you are working with.

Any employee who has an autoimmune disease (no matter how well managed) or is taking immune suppressing medications or is pregnant or planning conception should be aware that working with mutagenic, teratogenic and/or infectious agents poses a special risk to them or a fetus.

If an employee chooses to communicate this medical information to his/her supervisor, there are two options that can be offered to the employee. These options include:

  1. Consultation with EHS and an Occupational Health Physician regarding the hazards in the employee’s work place, evaluation of work practices, upgrades in PPE, changes to duties.
  2. Consultation between an Occupational Health Physician and the employee’s PCP or Obstetrician to thoroughly analyze the specific medical concerns for the employee in relation to the workplace hazards in order to make recommendations for accommodating the employee.

Consult with Human Resources as needed to facilitate implementation of recommendations made by the medical providers or EHS.

While you should be aware of the general risk of zoonoses, some species have specific zoonotic considerations to keep in mind. Please review the specific information about the species you work with.