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Oregon State University

Animal Handler Safety

Policy and Procedures

OSU is committed to providing a safe and healthful workplace for persons who handle animals as part of their job responsibilities or coursework. To achieve these goals, the OSU Administration has created and approved a Policy and Procedures for animal handlers that includes hazard awareness training and medical monitoring

OSU Animal Exposure Policy (pdf)

OSU Animal Exposure Procedures (pdf)

Working with Biohazards in Animals

Investigators who work with biological hazards (infectious agents, recombinant microorganisms / viruses or viral vectors) in animals are responsible for posting the door of animal rooms for the duration of studies using the OSU Animal Biohazard Door Posting, and also for identification of cages within the room with appropriate hazard warning, using the universal biohazard symbol.  

Before studies may begin, investigator staff, animal husbandry staff and the biological safety officer meet at the animal facility to review procedures and share information.  This is a good way to get questions answered and make sure everybody involved understands the procedures to be used.

Main Hazards of Animal Work

  1. Zoonoses – diseases resulting from infectious agents of animals that can be transmitted to and cause infection in humans
  2. Allergies – hypersensitivities caused by protein allergens released from animal fur, feathers or secretions
  3. Physical injuries – caused by bites, scratches, kicks or other actions of animals during handling
  4. Sharps injuries – breaks in the skin due to needles, scalpels or other sharp instruments
  5. Experimental hazards – biological, radiological or chemical agents administered to animals for purposes of studying a disease process

Animal Handler Training (video presentation)

Animal Handler Safety Training is required for persons who will work with animals or have significant contact with animals. Hazard awareness topics covered include zoonotic diseases, animal allergies, research hazards, physical injuries and sharps hazards. Other topics are methods to minimize personal risks of injury or disease when working with animals and medical monitoring. Video length is 1.5 hours.  Complete and submit acknowledgement of training form (included with the video link, below) after viewing the training material.

Animal Handler Safety Video

Animal Handler Medical Surveillance

Go to the SHS Occupational Health Services Animal Handler page for forms and information on medical surveillance requirements for animal handlers.

Rabies: Those individuals whose job activities or instructional training may place them at risk of exposure to rabies, there is a university Human Rabies Prevention Program, which consists of awareness training, emergency response procedures, and pre-exposure vaccination.  For some workers, periodic testing is also required.