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Occupational Safety and Health Program

The requirements for an occupational health program for personnel working with laboratory animals are found in a variety of sources such as the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (2011) and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. In addition, this program follows guidance and requirements for promoting occupational safety on campus under UMBCs Policy on Environmental Safety and Health Management and Enforcement. This policy provides guidance regarding compliance with federal, state, and local regulations for environmental protection, occupational safety, public health, biological safety, fire safety, hazardous materials management, and UMBC risk management requirements.

As such, the UMBC  Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) has created, in conjunction with Environmental Safety and Health and the Office of Research Protections and Compliance, an occupational health and safety program with the primary purpose of educating and promoting safe practices and personnel safety as well as preventing occupational injury and illness.

Who is covered in this program:

Every individual (animal care personnel) who will conduct procedures as well as daily care and maintenance involving animals are covered by this program. These include:

  • Principal Investigators on IACUC protocols
  • Research Staff listed on IACUC protocols
  • Animal Care Staff
  • Student Employees using and caring for animals

Animal care personnel working with animals should be aware of the potential dangers associated with animal contact. Hazards commonly encountered in association with animal research must be identified and described in the IACUC Protocol Application, and typically fall into several broad categories, each with its own requirements for documentation and/or additional review. These categories include:

  • Hazardous Chemicals (e.g., carcinogens, toxins)
  • Biohazards (e.g., recombinant DNA, viral vectors)
  • Radioactive Substances and lasers

Many simple steps can be taken to lessen the risk of working with animals. Use good personal hygiene: wash hands after animal contact and before leaving the animal facility; do not eat, drink, smoke, handle contact lenses, or apply cosmetics in work areas and wash hands before engaging in these activities. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, disposable gowns, as required or recommended.

Follow these steps:

  • Become educated about occupational safety and health issues while working with animals. Animal care personnel must register for the required web-based training program “Working Safely with Animals – Parts 1 & 2”. This two-part tutorial covers the basics of animal safety and working in a laboratory setting as well as specific safety issues and precautions concerning rodents, fish, birds, amphibians, and wild vertebrates. Completing this tutorial takes approximately 45 minutes. Follow these steps to register. Training must be completed when individuals are listed as personnel at the time of submission of a new IACUC study, the renewal of an expiring study, or when new personnel are added to a study that haven’t taken completed training previously.  Training must be repeated annually.


  • Complete the required UMBC Laboratory Animal Risk Assessment Form. The form assess if you may be “at risk” by working in the lab animal environment. The form is reviewed by environmental safety and health professionals to determine your potential risks of working in this environment. To work in UMBCs animal facilities, at a minimum, animal care personnel must have a current tetanus inoculation (<10 years old). If you identify health issues on the risk assessment form that would medically impact your ability to work in the animal facility, ESH will refer you to a medical surveillance provider (for example, University of Maryland Family Medicine Associates) for further health assessment. Services include physical examinations, immunizations and laboratory testing. These services will be billed directly to your UMBC department. Note that any information collected will be stored in accordance with current regulatory, privacy, and confidentiality requirements. Please note the assessment form submissions instructions at the bottom of the form.  For full interactive capability, use Internet Explorer. Otherwise, download the form, save it, then e-mail it as an attachment to
  • Risk assessments must be completed when individuals  are included as personnel at the time of submission of a new IACUC study, the renewal of an expiring study,  when personnel are added to a study that haven’t taken completed an assessment previously, or if an individual’s personal health status changes.  The assessment will be good for three (3) years.

The UMBC IACUC will withhold approval of animal research protocols until the above steps are followed and documented.

In addition to above occupational safety education program, you or your supervisor may complete laboratory or animal protocol specific on-line training options specific to animal work functions. Current one-line training options are provided by Environmental Safety and Health and the Office of Research Protections and Compliance. The University of Maryland Family Medicine Associates also offers general in-service program on risk topics including bloodborne pathogens, animal allergens/bites, hazardous materials/chemical exposure radiation exposure) and acute injuries. When available, please check the current schedule is found at

If you have health/safety concerns, you are urged to talk to your supervisor immediately or contact the Environmental Safety and Health or the Office for Research Protections and Compliance listed below for advice and assistance.

Reporting Incidents, Injuries, and/or Hazardous Exposure

Any occupational injury, hazardous exposure, or other safety incident should be reported in accordance procedures found on the Environmental Safety and Health website.

For more information contact:

Environmental Safety and Health

Office of Research Protections and Compliance 

Also, please review these sources for more information about occupational safety and health: