Oregon State University

212: Animal Handlers Policy


The primary goal of the OSU Animal Handler Occupational Health and Safety Program is to evaluate and, if necessary, address potential risks that may be associated with the use of animals in the workplace. Enrollment in this program is mandatory for all OSU personnel who have substantial animal contact, including faculty, classified staff, faculty research assistants, research associates, technicians, graduate students, post-doctoral students, undergraduate students, visiting faculty, and others involved with animals.



Any live, vertebrate animal.

Animal Facility

Any and all buildings, rooms, areas, enclosures, or vehicles including satellite facilities, used for animal confinement, transport, maintenance, breeding, or experiments inclusive of surgical manipulation. A satellite facility is any containment outside of a core facility or centrally designated or managed area in which animals are housed for more than 24 hours.

Risk Assessment

The process by which risks associated with working with animals (such as hazardous biological, chemical, or physical agents; allergens; or zoonoses) are identified.

Risk Management

The process by which identified risks are managed through such actions as education, training, personal protective equipment, zoonoses surveillance, or immunization.

Risk Training and Education

A program of training and education about areas of risk when working with animals in general or with specific species.


Department chairs, faculty, and other OSU employees or affiliates who have oversight of University employees, students, or other individuals and who are involved with animals; those individuals who are not OSU employees but are affiliated through courtesy or adjunct appointments may serve as supervisors.


It is the policy of Oregon State University to comply with all pertinent Federal, State, and local regulations regarding the provision of personnel health programs for individuals who have animal contact.An occupational health and safety program must be a part of the overall animal care and use program and should focus on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. The program should be based on risk assessment, risk management, training, preventive medicine, and medical treatment.

All persons involved in animal research, care, and handling (including animal fluids and unfixed tissues) as defined by this policy, shall participate in the university animal handler occupational health and safety program. Supervisors (department chairs, faculty and other OSU employees or affiliates who have oversight of University employees, students, or other individuals) are responsible for implementing this policy with individuals under their supervision.


A risk-based assessment of all persons involved in animal contact is performed to determine the level of participation in the OSU program. This assessment is initiated by a review of information provided on the completed Animal Contact Review and Initial Health Surveillance Questionnaire (ACRIHSIQ). This assessment considers hazards:

  • Posed by the animals
  • From biological, chemical, or physical agents used in the animal activity
  • Arising from susceptibility of personnel.

Preventative Medicine

Participants are enrolled in the program prior to contact with animals. Each participant completes an ACRIHSIQ, which requires input from both the participant and their supervisor. The completed form is sent to the OSU Student Health Services (SHS) for risk assessment. A copy of the first section of the form, which outlines safety training and use of hazardous biological, chemical and physical agents, is forwarded to Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S). No medical information is included in the first section of the questionnaire.

If screening identifies potential health risks, SHS providers will further evaluate participants, provide immunizations, order titers, give occupational medicine recommendations, and refer as appropriate. Additional consultation is available through the Corvallis Clinic or Oregon Health Sciences University, and technical assistance is available from the OSU Laboratory Animal Resources Center (LARC) and EH&S. Individuals who decline participation in the medical evaluation portion of the program may do so by signing appropriate waivers acknowledging their awareness of risks.

Medical care of OSU personnel for work related injuries or illness will be provided by the employee's primary health care provider.


Employees will be asked about allergies associated with animal handling. Employees with a history of preexisting animal allergies or asthma will be provided with information and training as appropriate, and if needed will be referred to other medical providers.


All participants will have the following vaccinations documented through their ACRIHSIQ:

  • Immunization with tetanus and diphtheria toxoids adsorbed (Td) will be updated according to recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP) of the Center for Disease Control. Booster doses will be recommended as needed.
  • Other vaccination recommendations will be determined on an individual basis after the risk assessment that reviews animal species, risk exposure, and personal health issues. SHS, with added consultation as needed from the Biosafety Officer, LARC or the Principal Investigator of the project, will make this determination.

Animal-Related Illness, Injury, or Unsafe Condition

  • Individuals must notify their supervisor of suspected zoonoses or suspected work-related illness or work-related injury.
  • Supervisors must report work-related illness or injury as defined in the OSU Safety Manual.
  • Bites and scratches should be flushed immediately with water and then scrubbed with soap and water prior to reporting for treatment. Injured personnel should report for medical attention unless the injury is very minor.
  • During clinic hours, it is highly recommended that students go to SHS for treatment or referral.
  • Employees (faculty and staff) should report to the Corvallis Clinic Occupational Health department for treatment or referral during clinic hours.
  • In the event of clinic closure, all injured personnel should go to a local health care facility or the emergency department, depending on the nature of the need.
  • Employees, students, volunteers, and visitors should report all unsafe conditions, practices, or equipment to the supervisor, instructor, the University Safety Committee or EH&S whenever deficiencies are noted.
  • Non-OSU affiliated individuals should see their normal health provider.


Training will include personal hygiene, occupational hazards (including injuries that might be incurred while working with specific species and allergies), zoonoses, and other safety/health risks related to animal contact. Initial training is documented on the ACRIHSIQ and signed by both the supervisor and the participant. Training topics presented will include, but not be limited to:

Personal Hygiene

For Animal Biosafety Level II or higher, the department will provide animal handlers with suitable clothing, laundry arrangements and storage for street clothing as determined by the supervisor. Eating, drinking, and smoking are prohibited in all animal rooms.

Personal hygiene for biosafety is discussed in the OSU Biosafety Manual

Serum Banking

The OSU Biosafety Officer will assess which program participants, if any, should submit a serum sample for storage based on risk assessment. Storage and maintenance of sera will be the responsibility of SHS.

Individuals Covered Under Policy

OSU Employees

  • Enrollment in this program is mandatory for all personnel for which OSU has responsibility and who have substantial animal contact. This includes but is not limited to faculty (including courtesy and adjunct faculty), classified staff, faculty research assistants, research associates, technicians, graduate students, post-doctoral students, student employees, visiting faculty, professional degree students, and any others involved with animals as defined under this policy. Volunteers or visiting clients should be apprised of health and safety issues by the appropriate OSU contact person at the animal site.

Non-OSU Individuals

  • Non-OSU individuals are those who are non-employees working on non-OSU projects, but using animals on OSU facilities. This group of individuals will comply with this program. Cost for compliance (i.e. vaccinations) will be the responsibility of the non-OSU individual or their employer.
  • Non-OSU individuals who are affiliated with OSU through courtesy or adjunct appointments are required to follow this policy as if they were OSU employees, due to their affiliation appointment with the university. Cost for compliance will be the responsibility of the affiliated individual or their employer.


  • OSU students will not normally be required to enroll in the animal occupational health and safety program if their only exposure to animals is limited to structured, or centrally scheduled credit-courses. However, the class instructor should provide them with information about any health considerations relative to the species with which they will be working.
  • Veterinary students and veterinary technicians receive additional services, such as rabies vaccination, under the direction of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Enrollment Process

  • Participants will be formally enrolled using the OSU ACRIHSIQ for each individual who is listed on an IACUC Animal Care and Use Proposal (ACUP) or employee position description as working directly with animals. The questionnaire is completed at the time a new ACUP is submitted for review, when new personnel are added to the ACUP, or when requested during the hiring or employee review process. The principal investigator and the participant must complete this form.
  • The LARC will enroll animal care personnel covered by the scope of this policy.
  • Instructors of classes using animals will be responsible for providing the class students with information about
    • species specific information
    • personal hygiene information
    • risk issues to humans


Services delivered by SHS will be subject to user-fee charges. Charges will be applied for any risk assessment when health issues are identified, as well as all required inoculations. The referring supervisor will provide information to SHS about the university account to charge for the services.

Responsibility for Program Components

1. Risk Assessment

  • Managed and evaluated through review of a two-part form (ACRIHSIQ):
    • initial screening to identify potential health risks and proper training;
    • review of pertinent medical information by SHS
  • Complemented by:
    • a review by specific oversight committees for hazardous biological, chemical, and physical agents.
    • a review of an activity by the IACUC.
  • Assessments are based on information collected on the OSU ACRIHSIQ and on other forms used by oversight committees for animal use and hazardous biological, chemical, and physical agents. The individual employee's job description may also be used to assess risk as necessary.

2. Risk Management

  • Managed by the supervisor of animal handlers.
  • Managed by class instructors.
  • Managed by department chairs and unit heads in ensuring awareness and accountability by members of the department or unit on this policy.
  • Managed by the SHS, EH&S, and the LARC.
  • Managed by the review processes for specific OSU oversight committees for hazardous biological, chemical and physical agents.


Research or teaching activities which involve individuals who are not enrolled in the occupational health and safety program, but are working with animals, will be interrupted or terminated at the discretion of the IACUC.

The Laboratory Animal Resources Center (LARC) will ensure compliance to this policy for all employees hired through LARC.

Additional Resources

Animal Contact Review and Initial Health Surveillance Questionnaire

Annual Health Surveillance Questionnaire


Communicable Diseases Center (CDC)

Contact Info

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