Stanford University

Laboratory Animal Occupational Health Program

The Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is responsible for administering the Laboratory Animal Occupational Health Program (LAOHP).  Mandated by federal requirements and external agencies, the primary goal of the LAOHP is to evaluate and, if necessary, address potential health risks associated with the use of animals in the research environment.

In particular, the LAOHP aims to:

  • Protect individuals from work-related risks associated with research on animals
  • Protect the health of research animals from certain transmissible diseases

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Submit an LAOHP Health Questionnaire to the Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC) if you are faculty, staff, visiting scholar, or student that:

  • Work directly with, or in close proximity to, vertebrate animals
  • Work directly with unfixed animal tissues or body fluids, including NHP cell lines
  • Work in animal housing areas
  • Work in the vicinity of such animals and have health or safety concerns, including animal allergy

Requirements for enrollment in the LAOHP depend upon an individual’s level of potential risk as identified during the Administrative Panel on Laboratory Animal Care risk assessment and protocol review process.

Risk Category 1

The Risk Category 1 (RC1) classification consists of personnel whose procedural, protocol, or job function risk analysis has indicated the need for enhanced medical review or in-person screening by the Occupational Health Center.

This includes the groups below:

  • Veterinary Service Center (VSC) and Animal Care personnel
  • Individuals who work directly with, or in close proximity to (same room as) the following:
    • Non-human primates (including their unfixed tissue and bodily fluids)
    • Hoofed mammals (e.g., swine, goats, sheep, cows)
    • Wild rodents, bats, and birds
  • Those involved in either domestic or international field studies
  • Personnel identified with lab animal allergy

All individuals classified as RC1 are required to complete an annual LAOHP questionnaire and any associated medical surveillance screening/testing through the Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).

Additionally, if you work with or handle non-human primates or pregnant or neonatal sheep, you must attend the Veterinary Service Center training programs on these topics.  In-service training is not required for those who work only with NHP tissue.

Risk Category 2

The Risk Category 2 (RC2) classification consists of all individuals involved in animal care and use protocols that do not fall within the RC1 participation group.  Such personnel may work with, or be exposed to, bloodborne pathogens, infectious agents, and animal allergens.

Those personnel performing hands-on animal activities on Risk Category 2 protocols are strongly encouraged to enroll in the LAOHP and complete an annual LAOHP questionnaire. Following review of the submitted LAOHP questionnaires, SUOHC may require RC2 individuals to schedule a clinical visit prior to providing medical clearance.  In addition, all RC2 personnel should review species-specific information and periodic updates they receive from Environmental Health and Safety or other Stanford groups such as the Veterinary Service Center or Administrative Panel on Laboratory Animal Care.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

I am concerned about my health & safety related to my work with laboratory animals. What should I do?

Please contact the SUOHC directly to schedule a visit with the on-site clinicians.  Depending on your research tasks and concerns, Stanford Biosafety, Industrial Hygiene, and Ergonomics may additionally work with you and/or your department to address your concerns.

Where can I get more information?

  1. General –The Environmental Health & Safety website has general information about the LAOHP. More detailed information pertaining to lab animal research is available through the Research Compliance Office.  Additional information about certain animal species can be found in the Animal Safety Data Sheets.
  2. Animal Allergies – In the research setting, allergies to laboratory animals can become a serious concern and may affect anyone who works with animals. If you think you might be experiencing allergic symptoms due to your work with animals (including sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, skin rashes or hives, or wheezing), contact the Occupational Health Center to arrange for an evaluation.  If the exposure to animal allergens continues, such symptoms can ultimately progress to more serious breathing issues, including asthma.
  3. Immune deficiency – If your immune system is weakened due to disease or medication use (for example, if you have been diagnosed with or are treated for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, HIV/AIDS, or chronic viral illness), you may need to take certain precautions.  You are encouraged to confidentially discuss your situation with the SUOHC medical team or with your personal care physician.
  4. Pregnancy – If you are pregnant (or if you are planning a pregnancy), you may need to take certain precautions during your pregnancy. This may be important if you work with animals, chemicals, or other hazardous agents.  You are encouraged to participate in the Stanford Reproductive & Developmental Health Protection Program by submitting this questionnaire describing potential hazards in your work area. As described in this policy, Stanford Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) will conduct an evaluation and health risk assessment of work area based on questionnaire results and operations performed in work area.  You may also confidentially discuss your situation with the SUOHC medical team or with your personal care physician.
  5. Bites and scratches – It is essential that you report all bites and scratches, even if the wound is only minor.  If the injury involves exposure to non-human primates, a special “NHP Bite Kit” from the Veterinary Service Center should be used to help guide the injury evaluation process. To reduce the chance of infection, wounds should be cleansed immediately, scrubbing gently for 15 minutes with warm soapy water. Exposures to the eyes or mucus membranes should be flushed with clean water for 15 minutes. After cleansing or flushing, you should seek medical care urgently. SUOHC is open from 8-5, M-F and is located in the Environmental Safety Facility at 480 Oak Road, Stanford.  For care after routine clinic hours, you may proceed directly to the Stanford Hospital Emergency Room. For severe or life-threatening injuries, call 911 to access emergency response.
  6. Ergonomics and other health hazards – If you would like general information about how to safely manage the physical demands of work (for example: moving heavy objects, repetitive handling or computer work) or if you have concerns about potential health effects of other environmental hazards in your work area, please contact EH&S at 650-723-0448 or SUOHC at 650-725-5308.

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