Emory Occupational Health & Safety Program

Enrollment & Renewal

On March 24, 2008, the Emory IACUC implemented new OHS requirements for all animal users at Emory University. As part of the implementation of this program, all new employees that will be working with animals, all individuals on new IACUC applications, and all individuals on three year renewals of existing IACUC applications will be required to complete an online health screening questionnaire OHSQ. Upon completion of this questionnaire, some individuals will be instructed to contact Emory Employee Health Services (EHS) to schedule an appointment to be evaluated with a nurse. Emory Employee Health Service may be reached at 404-686-7946. This screening questionnaire must be completed at least annually by all users of animals at Emory University. All individuals listed on IACUC protocols as working with animals will need to have completed the Emory IACUC OHS questionnaire within the last year before annual renewals of IACUC protocols will be granted.

Procedures for enrollment in the OHS program at Yerkes will not change.

Please note that this may lengthen the amount of time it takes to process a modification adding an employee to an existing IACUC protocol. Everyone must now be cleared by Emory EHS prior to being added to a protocol for facility access cards. Failure to comply may result in a restriction from working with animals. During the protocol renewal process, both new and current research personnel will be assessed for their compliance with enrollment in the OHS program. The medical information collected is for the protection of the employee and their co-workers. This information is confidential between EHS and the employee. University policy abides by HIPAA guidelines: health and medical information cannot be distributed or shared with any third party without the written and informed formal consent of the individual.

The process for enrollment will be as follows:

  1. New / Renewal Applications - The PI should prepare and process new/renewal applications as usual. The PI and each individual will be responsible for completing the online screening questionnaire at the following website: OHSQ
    After finishing the online screening, each person will either be cleared, or they will be instructed to call and make an appointment. Contact Emory Employee Health Services at 404-686-7946 to make an appointment. This process will NOT delay the review of your application by the committee - only the final approval letter will not be issued until all employees on the application have been cleared by EHS.
  2. Modifications to Add Employees - The PI should submit a modification to the IACUC office requesting to add a new person to the protocol. All newly hired personnel working with animals will be identified through the paperwork filled out for the job classification. Each individual will be responsible for completing the online screening questionnaire at the following website: OHSQ. After finishing the online screening, each person will either be cleared, or they will be instructed to call and make an appointment. If instructed to make an appointment, contact Emory Employee Health Services at 404-686-7946.
  3. EHS will notify the IACUC office whether the employee is cleared or not cleared to work with animals
  4. The IACUC office will then approve the modification(or new/renewal protocol) with the employees and then they will be allowed to attend the orientation session necessary for obtaining an access card.
  5. New personnel will not be allowed to attend orientation without having first been cleared by EHS.
  6. All costs for the health screening and any EHS required vaccinations will be paid by the IACUC.

Executive Summary: The requirement for an occupational health and safety program, including preventive medicine and emergency treatment, are required of grant-receiving institutions by the PHS and therefore by Emory University policy as articulated by our Trustees (http://whsc.emory.edu/animal_research_position_statement.cfm). In 2005, the university hired a physician with infectious disease expertise to assess risks and prescribe a program of occupational medicine for research personnel with animal contact at Emory. This is the first step in an overall OHSP for all Emory research personnel. Funding for this program has recently been made available and it is now being implemented. The costs for this program are not charged directly to grants.

The IACUC Guidebook of the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare of the NIH (pages 61-61) states: "A wide range of personnel (e.g., animal care staff, investigators, technical staff, students, volunteers, engineers, housekeepers, security officers, and maintenance personnel who care for or use animals, their tissues or fluids, or who may be exposed to them as a consequence of their job) should be provided the opportunity to participate in the OHSP. The extent and level of participation of personnel in the OHSP should be based on risk assessment, including: hazards posed by the animals and materials used; exposure intensity, duration, and frequency; susceptibility of personnel; and history of occupational illness and injury in the workplace. Health and safety specialists should be involved in the assessment of risks associated with hazardous activities."

The "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" used by the NIH and PHS states: "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)...Development and implementation of a program of medical evaluation and preventive medicine should involve input from trained health professionals, such as occupational-health physicians and nurses. Confidentiality and other medical and legal factors must be considered in the context of appropriate federal, state, and local regulations. A health-history evaluation before work assignment is advisable to assess potential risks for individual employees. Periodic medical evaluations are advisable for people in some risk categories. An appropriate immunization schedule should be adopted. It is important to immunize animal-care personnel against tetanus. In addition, pre-exposure immunization should be offered to people at risk of infection or exposure to such agents as rabies or hepatitis B virus. Vaccination is recommended if research is to be conducted on infectious diseases for which effective vaccines are available. Specific recommendations can be found in the CDC and NIH publication Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (1993)."

PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, Frequently Asked Questions, found at: http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/olaw/faqs.htm#instresp_2. There is a specific FAQ: What is required for an occupational health and safety program?: "The Guide states that 'An occupational health and safety program must be part of the overall animal care and use program' and provides an outline of the principal requirements for such a program. Institutional research programs vary regarding the species used, the potential hazards presented, and the biological, chemical, or physical agents employed in research. Thus, the institution must base its health program on an assessment of the risks present in its particular animal research and support program. Risk assessment and the implementation of health programs should rely heavily on input from persons knowledgeable in occupational safety and health, biosafety, and radiation safety, and include both preventive as well as diagnostic and treatment features. Guidance regarding basic health program elements, recommendations concerning zoonoses surveillance and prophylactic immunizations, and advice on which categories of personnel to include in light of potential exposure to risks is provided in the reference at A4. Institutions should make clear that personal medical records are confidential documents and ensure that their contents are treated appropriately. To avoid placing individuals and institutions at risk, prior clearance to work in specific areas or conduct specific activities can be provided by safety and health, biosafety, and/or radiation safety professionals. If individuals decline to participate in the health program, institutions can restrict their participation to activities that pose no identified occupational health-related risks as determined by a health professional. See the NRC publication Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals for additional information."