Section 1: Introduction


The purpose of this occupational health and safety program (OHSP) is to reduce to an acceptable level the risk/hazard associated with use of vertebrate animals in research, teaching and outreach, consistent with an overall institutional focus on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. An OHSP for employees and students involved in animal care and use is an important component of the institution's overall animal care and use program. Topics addressed include:

  • risk assessment
  • personnel training
  • standard operating procedures
  • facilities
  • medical evaluation
  • preventive medicine

The health and safety needs of these individuals are addressed in the context of existing environmental health and safety programs at Baylor University, e.g., blood-borne pathogens, chemical hygiene, respiratory protection, handling/disposal of hazardous waste materials, radiological safety, biological use authorization, and containment and handling requirements for biological agents

Compliance Standards

Baylor University is required to have an OHSP to be in compliance with Public Health Service (PHS) policy and with federal regulations. Resource materials for requirements and/or recommendations pertaining to this OHSP include:

  • Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Research Council, 1996) and
  • Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals Eighth Edition (National Research Council, 2011).

A description of our OHSP must be included in the Baylor University Animal Welfare Assurance that is required by the PHS. The effectiveness of Baylor University's OHSP ultimately relies on effective interactions among several institutional functions or activities:

  • research and teaching program directors
  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  • providers of veterinary care
  • Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)
  • The Concentra Medical Center
  • facility-maintenance personnel
  • administrative support
  • and on the performance of safe practices by all personnel in contact with animals or animal tissues.


  • Those involved in the direct care of animals (including part-time employees)
  • Research investigators and their technical staff
  • Instructors
  • Students having animal contact through research projects
  • Others having direct contact with animal tissue, fluids or wastes
  • Relevant personnel involved in facilities maintenance, custodial services, security

The OHSP is provided for all personnel involved in activities applicable to the Baylor University Assurance of Compliance with the Public Health Service (PHS) policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Applicable in the University's Assurance of Compliance are all research experimentation, research training, biological testing and related activities involving live, vertebrate animals whether the activities either are supported by the PHS or are not supported by the PHS but the animals are housed in the same facility as PHS supported animals.

Enrollment in the OHSP applies to all workers who contact research animals for which there is increased risk of animal related injury or illness. An employee or student is at an increased risk if they are exposed to live, vertebrate animals in a way that gives them an increased risk of an occupational illness, such as a zoonotic disease, physical injury, or allergy.

Certain animal contact/projects pose little health risk to individuals and may be exempted from the program. Exemptions may be given for projects that involve the observation of animals or for other uses that pose no increased risk. Questions or interpretations concerning potential exemptions should be directed to the Director of the Animal Facility. Students who are only exposed to animals in a classroom setting are not required to enroll in the OHSP.

At the time of enrollment, all participants will be provided a health questionnaire (History and Risk Assessment Survey). Completed questionnaires will be reviewed by an occupational health physician (OHP). The questionnaire deals with anticipated or actual exposure to animals at work, immunization status with regard to rabies and tetanus, and any existing medical condition that creates an animal contact health risk. Physical examinations and counseling are based on the functional requirements of the position, the type of animal contact, and the individual's prior medical history.

Aside from the OHSP per se, oversight of occupational health and safety issues is provided by the IACUC, Institutional Biosafety Committee and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety. The IACUC, for example, requires certification by PIs/facility contacts that all individuals working with animals, animal tissues, or animal products on an approved protocol be informed of relevant occupational health and safety issues prior to performing their duties. Moreover, occupational health and safety issues are topics for consideration by the IACUC in its semiannual site inspections and programmatic reviews.

Program Support

Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

Responsibilities of EHS include conducting safety training in:

  • chemical hygiene/laboratory safety
  • chemical waste management
  • radiological safety
  • medical waste management
  • blood borne pathogens
  • respiratory protection
  • participation in any required annual training by notification of personnel and coordination of activities
  • oversight and record keeping pertaining to training activities
  • site inspections and/or other issues pertaining to compliance and enforcement in OHSP
  • participation in certain aspects of the medical monitoring program, e.g., identifying need for auditory testing and/or respiratory protection and assessment of exposure to radiation
  • record keeping and investigations with regard to accidents/injuries/adverse incidents
  • and providing consultation to participants or employing units on topics such as ventilation, storage of hazardous materials, and engineering controls (e.g., biological safety cabinets).

The Concentra Medical Center

The Concentra Medical Center provides medical services and counseling associated with entry medical evaluation and surveillance recalls (e.g., annual reviews, tetanus boosters, rabies antibody titers). With entry evaluations, the Concentra Medical Center will notify the PI, director or supervisor in a timely manner when the medical evaluation and procedures have been completed and will indicate notification of approval, non-approval or accommodations required for enrollees to work with the animal species specified on Form C, the Risk Assessment and Review Questionnaire. The Concentra Medical Center is responsible for notifying enrollees of medical follow-ups. Records documenting status of entry medical evaluations and surveillance recalls are maintained by the Concentra Medical Center.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Baylor University's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is a standing committee that oversees animal use and care at Baylor. The charge of the IACUC is to assure the humane care and use of animals utilized in biomedical and behavioral research, teaching, and testing. Every effort is made to follow all federal, state, and local laws and regulations that govern the care and use of animals in these manners. Specific guidance can be found in the Animal Welfare Act, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

This IACUC web site is provided by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research to assist those involved with animal research to meet the basic requirements necessary to be in compliance and help Baylor personnel through the processes required to meet those obligations. All animal use and research must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC prior to ordering, breeding or using animals in research, teaching or testing at Baylor. The IACUC is responsible for assuring appropriate use, care, and treatment of all vertebrate animals used for University activities, and has the authority to approve or withhold approval of protocols for all such activities involving animals in accordance with the Public Health Service Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals regulations of the Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 99-158).

Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

The IBC is charged by the President of Baylor University with responsibility for the regulation of biohazardous materials, including human and animal pathogens, plant pathogens, toxins, allergens and recombinant DNA. PIs using biohazardous materials within Baylor University facilities must receive authorization for biological use from the IBC. The Baylor University Biosafety Program, under the auspices of the IBC, is heavily dependent on the PI to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff, visitors, and the environment.

Radiological Safety Committee (RSC)

All work with radioisotopes conducted at Baylor University must be approved by the RSC.

Other Baylor University safety programs applicable to laboratories that work with biological agents include the Chemical Hygiene Plan, the Baylor University Chemical Waste Management Program, Blood-Borne Pathogens and Respiratory Protection.

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