Animal Handler Medical Monitoring Procedures

Procedure For The Medical Monitoring Component Of The Animal Handler Occupational Health And Safety Program


Federal regulations require institutions that use animals in research or educational programs to have in place an occupational health and safety program for individuals who work with or have significant contact with animals (referred to from here on as "animal handlers"). The U.S. Public Health Service Animal Welfare Assurance for California State University, Los Angeles contains the following description of this program:

 "The program includes medical monitoring and an educational component. The medical monitoring is based on the type and frequency of exposure to animals, and consists of a baseline health assessment, follow-up health assessment, tests, and immunizations. The educational component provides individuals with health information specific to animal contact and promotes safe working practices."

The goal of the medical monitoring component of this program is to assess, in an efficient and cost-effective manner, whether exposure to animals represents a risk to an individual's health, allowing for appropriate protective actions. The level of health monitoring required takes into account the particular species in question, the level of exposure, and the individual's health history. Protective actions may include the need for follow-up examinations, vaccinations, personnel protective clothing and/or equipment, or other actions deemed necessary to protect the health of the individual, potentially including exclusion from contact with animals.

Details of Medical Monitoring Plan

To achieve the goals of the medical monitoring component of the animal handler occupational health and safety program, the following procedures are proposed…

  1. Participants will obtain an Initial Program Registration and Health Evaluation Form from the Animal Care Department. Part I of the form (Animal Contact and Training) must be completed by the participant's supervisor or the Principal Investigator (PI) on the animal protocol. This part gives information on the participant, the species of animal used and level of exposure, training in animal handling and related occupational health issues, and any hazardous agents used in the animal research. The Supervisor/PI only needs to complete this Program Form once and initially (not annually) for each individual under their supervision unless one or more of the following has changed: the duration of animal contact, the type of activity, and/or the type of animal. A faculty PI should complete this form for him/herself.
  2. Participants will then complete Part II of the Initial Program Form (Initial Health Surveillance Questionnaire). This part gives information on the participant's medical history, including past zoonotic diseases or animal-related injuries, medications taken, immunocompromised conditions, immunization history, environmental allergies/asthma, pregnancy status, valvular heart disease, and other conditions.
  3. Following completion of Parts I and II of the Initial Program Form, the participant will make an appointment and have the form reviewed by the University's contracted Occupational Health Provider (OHP). The OHP will review the form, ask the participant for any clarifications or further information, and provide the University Animal Care Department with his/her recommendation with regards to the clearance of the individual to work with animals. This recommendation is made in Part III of the form (Recommendation of Occupational Health Practitioner).
  4. The OHP will not forward specific medical information to the Animal Care Department, and will maintain the Program Forms in their entirety at his/her site in a secure and confidential manner. The only document that is sent back to the Animal Care Department (via the individual animal handler) will be a copy of the completed and signed Part III of the program form. The costs of the OHP's review of the Program Form will be borne by the University.
  5. If the OHP requires additional health evaluations, vaccinations, or treatments before clearing the Participant, he/she shall so notify the Participant. The cost of any additional services shall be borne by the Participant, who may choose to use the services of the OHP, a personal physician, or other qualified medical practitioner. If a medical provider other than the OHP is used, the participant must bring the entire form (Parts I, II and III) to the medical practitioner providing follow-up evaluation. That individual will need to provide clearance to work with animals to the Animal Care Department by completing Part III of the Program Form. A copy of Part III must then be provided to the Animal Care Department.
  6. If the OHP, personal physician or other qualified medical practitioner determines that the individual has health concerns that preclude participation in research or educational activities involving animals, this shall be noted on Part III of the form (without providing specific health information). The individual should inform their supervisor of this determination. At no point is the individual required to divulge to their supervisor or any party other than the OHP of specific medical information that is the basis for precluding exposure to/handling of animals. If the individual wishes to obtain a second medical opinion or otherwise appeal the OHP's determination, they should contact the Animal Care Director.
  7. On an annual basis, participants will similarly complete the Annual Health Surveillance Questionnaire and take it to the OHP for evaluation and his/her recommendation on continuation of working with animals. A copy of the completed and signed Recommendation of the Occupational Health and Safety Physician must be provided to the Animal Care Department annually. If there are any new health concerns which require follow-up evaluation or exclusion from animal exposure/handling, the procedures described above shall apply.

Contact Information
Jason Shiotsugu, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Director of Research
Office of Research and Development
Golden Eagle Building 314