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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report
rules, it sets a bad example. Rules that are too rigid, misunderstood, or considered unreasonable by employees can undermine the credibility of a program (NRC, 1997). Developing programs and policies and then subsequently failing to implement them only fosters cynicism among employees and results in poor adherence to health and safety policies.
It is important for management to articulate a clear worksite safety and health policy that:
Establishes and communicates clear goals for the OHS.
Provides visible top-management involvement in implementing the program.
Encourages employee involvement in inspection, hazard analysis, work rules, training, and accident investigation.
Provides adequate authority and resources to responsible parties.
Holds managers, supervisors, and other employees accountable.
Includes periodic program reviews.
The following is a brief review of the program elements that must be encompassed in an OHS program at a major zoo (AIHA, 1997; NRC, 1997; OSHA, 1989). It is important to recognize that resources and expertise, in addition to management and employee commitment, are necessary to accomplish these elements.
The first element is worksite analysis, which focuses on identifying hazards and anticipating conditions and operations that may lead to harmful occurrences (AIHA, 1997; OSHA, 1989). This process includes
Comprehensive baseline and periodic safety and health surveys.
Analysis of planned and new facilities, processes, materials, and equipment.
Routine job-hazard analyses and site safety and health inspections.
Employee notification of management about safety and health concerns without fear of reprisal, and receive timely and appropriate responses to such notifications.
Investigation of all accidents and near accidents.
Analysis of injury and illness trends (recordkeeping).
The second element, hazard prevention and control, includes establishing procedures for the correction and control of hazards by using the hierarchy or control principle (for example, elimination of hazards and engineering controls as a first consideration) and determining the proper use of personal protective equipment. This element also encompasses maintenance, planning and preparing for emergencies, and establishment of an occupational medical program.
The third element is safety and health training. Employees must understand the hazards that they will be exposed to and how to prevent harm to themselves. They must also be made aware of what to do in an emergency and how to deal with a potentially harmful exposure. Training should include the responsibilities of all personnel (hourly and salaried), and it is usually most effective if incorporated into other training. It is important for managers to understand their responsibilities and that there is accountability among supervisory staff for carrying out safety and health responsibilities.
The occupational health part of a zoo’s OHS program has three purposes:
To protect the health of employees and the public.
To protect the health of the animal collection.
To comply with legal and ethical institutional standards.
A number of potentially occupational zoonoses occur in a zoo setting. It is crucial that zoo employees be aware of those risks, know how to protect themselves and to recognize when an exposure has occurred, and have