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Laboratory Animal Allergy and Zoonosis Prevention Policy

Category Health and Safety
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, 13 June 2012
Date Policy Took Effect 1 July 2012
Last Approved Revision 15 October 2018
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible Officer Head, Health and Safety Compliance
Review Date 15 October 2023

Purpose

To minimise the likelihood of exposure to animal allergens and zoonotic disease agents via animal handling, and to effectively manage any exposure to minimise possible harm.

Organisational Scope

All University work locations where animals are involved in research and teaching, including departmental laboratories and animal facilities.

Definitions

Act – Animal Welfare Act 1999
AWO – Animal Welfare Office
HVAC – Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
LAA – Laboratory Animal Allergy
PPCE – Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment
Zoonotic Disease (Zoonosis) – Diseases or infections that are naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans

Policy Content

1. Policy statement

a) The University will take all practicable steps to control hazardous exposure to laboratory animal allergens and zoonotic disease agents to protect the health of staff, students, and others who may be at risk of exposure.

b) All work relating to the holding and use of animals at the University will be managed in accordance with the laboratory animal allergy and zoonotic disease prevention guidelines governing the work.

c) The University operates a health surveillance programme for all persons working within animal facilities or departmental laboratories where animals are used. This surveillance programme will be used to enable the early identification of anyone developing allergic problems or at risk of contracting a zoonotic disease. Additional controls will be introduced to protect these individuals from disease progression.

d) The University will make reasonable efforts to re-deploy to other work areas any staff with laboratory animal allergy or identified to be at a higher risk of contracting a zoonotic disease, where additional controls have been ineffective in preventing the development of allergic response or zoonotic disease.

2. Responsibilities

a) The University is responsible for:

i. The provision of ventilated caging systems compatible with animal welfare requirements to be included in the upgrading of existing, or the building of new, animal facilities, and;
ii. The provision of high specification of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems within the animal facilities and animal use areas within departmental laboratories to provide the optimum working environment for working with animals and to minimize exposure to animal allergens and zoonotic disease agents.
iii. The provision of suitable personal protective clothing and equipment (PPCE), and adequate training in the proper use thereof, to staff, students and visitors working with animals.

3. Heads of Academic Departments are responsible for:

a) Ensuring that all work with laboratory animals carried out by staff, students and visitors to the department complies with the guidelines.

b) Ensuring that any work with animals within a department is effectively managed to minimize the risk of exposure to allergens and zoonotic disease agents.

c) Ensuring that all work that uses animals in any form is audited annually for compliance as defined by the Animal Welfare Office and outlined by the Institutional Biological Safety Committee’s Quality Management System.

d) Ensuring that all staff and students working with animals complete the Animal Welfare Office Module 1 to provide training and information on the controls applied to laboratory animal allergy and zoonotic diseases.

e) Ensuring that all staff and students using animals participate in the health surveillance programme for animal allergy and zoonotic diseases.

f) Ensuring that all animal use areas are managed so as to minimize the potential exposure to laboratory animal allergens, including the provision of suitable personal protective clothing and equipment for persons entering the facility or laboratory, and;

g) Supporting and facilitating increased allergen controls as required for any individual who develops animal allergy symptoms.

4. Principal Investigators are responsible for:

a) Ensuring that all work involving animals under approved animal protocols is undertaken in accordance with the laboratory animal allergy and zoonosis prevention guidelines, and;

b) Ensuring that all staff and students of the research group and any visitors are provided with the appropriate information and training to avoid unnecessary hazardous exposure to allergens and zoonotic disease agents.

c) Ensuring the proper use of PPCE by all staff and students of the research group and any visitors to the animal use area within the laboratory.

d) Ensuring that access to the laboratory facility is restricted to authorized persons.

5. Animal Facility Managers are responsible for:

a) Ensuring that the animal facilities are managed so as to minimize the potential exposure to laboratory animal allergens and zoonotic disease agents, including the provision of suitable personal protective equipment for persons entering the facility.

b) Developing standard operating procedures for work with animals and in animal facilities.

c) Ensuring that staff, students and any visitors to the facility receive sufficient training and information on prevention of laboratory animal allergy and zoonosis and proper animal handling to minimize the potential for exposure.

d) Ensuring that swipe card access to the facility is restricted to authorized persons, and

e) Ensuring that the annual monitoring results of HVAC systems are available for staff and students.

6. The Director of Property Services is responsible for:

a) Ensuring that the HVAC systems of animal facilities and rooms within departmental laboratories used for working with animals are up to standard and effectively maintained.

b) Providing reports on the annual HVAC testing and results to the relevant Animal Facility Manager, Animal Welfare Office, Head, Health and Safety Compliance and Animal Ethics Committee Chairs.

7. Health and Safety Compliance Team are responsible for:

a) Advising on the appropriate personal health protection measures to limit hazardous exposures.

b) Advising and case managing persons identified as sensitized to animal allergens or at a higher risk of contracting a zoonotic disease.

c) Organizing an effective health surveillance programme for laboratory animal allergy and zoonotic diseases, and;

d) Auditing the implementation and effectiveness of the policy.

8. Staff, students and visitors working with laboratory animals are responsible for:

a) Complying with standard operating procedures in animal facilities and animal use areas within departmental laboratories, and as required by the approved Animal Use Protocol (as outlined by the Act).

b) Participating in the health surveillance programme, and;

c) Reporting any possible symptoms of animal allergy or zoonotic disease to the Health and Safety Compliance team and Occupational Health Nurse.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy, procedure or guideline or need further clarification, contact Health and Safety Compliance on hsa@otago.ac.nz