Institutions should have written policies and procedures governing experimentation with hazardous biologic, chemical, and physical agents. An oversight process (such as the use of a safety committee) should be developed to involve persons who are knowledgeable in the evaluation and safe use of hazardous materials or procedures and should include review of the procedures and facilities to be used for specific safety concerns. Formal safety programs should be established to assess hazards, determine the safeguards needed for their control, and ensure that staff have the necessary training and skills and that facilities are adequate for the safe conduct of the research. Technical support should be provided to monitor and ensure compliance with institutional safety policies. A collaborative approach involving the investigator and research team, attending veterinarian, animal care technician, and occupational health and safety professionals may enhance compliance.
The BMBL (DHHS 2009) and NRC (1997) recommend practices and procedures, safety equipment, and facility requirements for working with hazardous biologic agents and materials. Facilities that handle agents of unknown risk should consult with appropriate CDC personnel about hazard control and medical surveillance. The use of highly pathogenic “select agents and toxins” in research requires that institutions develop a program and procedures for procuring, maintaining, and disposing of these agents (CFR 1998, 2002a,b; NRC 2004; PL 107-56; PL 107-188; Richmond et al. 2003). The use of immunodeficient or genetically modified animals (GMAs) susceptible to or shedding human pathogens, the use of human tissues and cell lines, or any infectious disease model can lead to an increased risk to the health and safety of personnel working with the animals (Lassnig et al. 2005; NIH 2002).
Hazardous agents should be contained in the study environment, for example through the use of airflow control during the handling and administering of hazardous agents, necropsies on contaminated animals (CDC and NIH 2000), and work with chemical hazards (Thomann 2003). Waste anesthetic gases should be scavenged to limit exposure.
Personal Protection While engineering and administrative controls are the first considerations for the protection of personnel, PPE appropriate for the work environment, including clean institution-issued protective clothing, should be provided as often as necessary. Protective clothing and equipment should not be worn beyond the boundary of the hazardous agent work area or the animal facility (DHHS 2009). If appropriate, personnel should shower when they leave the animal care, procedure, or dose preparation areas. Personnel with potential exposure to hazardous agents or certain species should be provided with PPE appropriate to the situation (CFR 1984c); for example, personnel exposed to nonhuman primates should have PPE such