Investigators, technical personnel, trainees, and visiting investigators who perform animal anesthesia, surgery, or other experimental manipulations must be qualified through training or experience to accomplish these tasks in a humane and scientifically acceptable manner.
An occupational health and safety program must be part of the overall animal care and use program (CDC and NIH 1993; CFR 1984a,b,c; PHS Policy). The program must be consistent with federal, state, and local regulations and should focus on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. The program will depend on the facility, research activities, hazards, and animal species involved. The National Research Council publication Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals (NRC In press) contains guidelines and references for establishing and maintaining an effective, comprehensive program (also see Appendix A). An effective program relies on strong administrative support and interactions among several institutional functions or activities, including the research program (as represented by the investigator), the animal care and use program (as represented by the veterinarian and the IACUC), the environmental health and safety program, occupational health services, and administration (e.g., human resources, finance, and facility-maintenance personnel). Operational and day-to-day responsibility for safety in the workplace, however, resides with the laboratory or facility supervisor (e.g., principal investigator, facility director, or veterinarian) and depends on performance of safe work practices by all employees.
Professional staff who conduct and support research programs that involve hazardous biologic, chemical, or physical agents (including ionizing and nonionizing radiation) should be qualified to assess dangers associated with the programs and to select safeguards appropriate to the risks. An effective occupational health and safety program ensures that the risks associated with the experimental use of animals are reduced to acceptable levels. Potential hazards-such as animal bites, chemical cleaning agents, allergens, and zoonoses-that are inherent in or intrinsic to animal use should also be identified and evaluated. Health and safety specialists with knowledge in appropriate disciplines should be involved in the assessment of risks associated with hazardous activities and in the development of procedures to manage such risks. The extent and level of participation of personnel in the occupational health and safety program should be based on the hazards posed by the animals and materials used; on the exposure intensity, duration, and frequency; on the susceptibility of the personnel; and on the history of occupational illness and injury in the particular workplace (Clark 1993).