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Staying Healthy in the Animal Facility

Get the Facts

All individuals working in a facility should receive appropriate training on that facility’s particular biohazards, precautions, and biohazard evaluation procedures. If there is something you don’t understand, ask your supervisor. If they don’t know, ask Employee Health Services (860-679-2893).

Seek Medical Attention Promptly

If you are injured on the job, you must promptly report the accident to your supervisor, even if it seems minor. You will then report to employee health services for evaluation of the injury. This is especially important when working with non-human primates or their housing areas.

The Supervisor’s Role

The supervisor is responsible for teaching the workers what they need to know to perform their job safely and effectively.

Tell Your Physician You Work with Animals

Whenever you’re ill, even if you’re not certain that the illness is work related, always mention to your physician that you work with animals. Many zoonotic diseases have flu-like symptoms, and your physician needs this information to make an accurate diagnosis.

Use Personal Protective Equipment

Some types of work require personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face shields, masks, respirators, etc. Always use the protective devices where required, and follow your supervisor’s instructions. Individuals should realize that there is a difference between masks and respirators- respirators (such as N95 respirator masks) are highly recommended for individuals working with animals. Respirators form a seal around your face and must be fit-tested. They are also approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Wash Your Hands

The most common way to contract a zoonotic infection is place the infectious material directly in your own mouth. Always wash your hands after handling an animal or anything that the animal has touched. Never smoke, drink, apply cosmetics, or eat in the animal room or before washing your hands.

Wear Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when working with animals. For some workers, protective clothing will consist of a lab coat; for others it may be a dedicated set of work clothing. Never take protective clothing home with you. Protective clothing insures that you won’t bring potentially contaminated material home with you.

Training

Training should be appropriate for the employee’s education, experience, and language skills. Training sessions are documented. Everyone in the workplace should be aware of their own safe work practices and those of others. Safety is everyone’s business. The Office or Research Safety conducts regular training regarding chemical, blood-borne pathogen training, and radiation safety. The IACUC conducts regular training regarding animal use.