Animal Care and Use Occupational Health Program


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Association for Assessment and Accreditation in Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) require the University to have an effective occupational health and safety program for all individuals who may have exposure to animals. OLAW explicitly advises that opting-out of participation in the University’s program does not satisfy its regulatory requirement. Further, OLAW requires an individualized assessment of all personnel who may have exposure to animals.

Participation in the University’s Occupational Health Program is, therefore, mandatory for all personnel who work with or have contact with animals, their tissues and body fluids, or have duties in animal housing areas

The University’s Animal Care and Use Occupational Health Program has three key components:

  • Required training: Animal Care orientation & on-line classes

  • Completion of the Occupational Health & Wellness Survey (OHWS)

  • Adherence to any required medical monitoring, such as immunizations, screening tests (Tuberculosis), and serum collection and testing (Q-fever)

The University’s Animal Care and Use Occupational Health Program aims to:

  • Protect individuals from work-related risks associated with research on animals to provide a safe work and learning environment; and

  • Protect the health of research animals from certain transmissible diseases

Risk Assessment Participation

Risk assessment is mandatory for all faculty, staff, students and volunteers who have direct or indirect exposure to animals used in research. An individual has successfully met this requirement when he/she has completed Brown’s online Occupational Health and Wellness Survey (OHWS) via Traincaster. The initial evaluation establishes a baseline of an individual’s health and potential exposure risks. Subsequent updates help assess an individual’s changing risks.

  • Faculty, staff, student and volunteers are required to update their information when changes in potential exposure have occurred and to complete the OHWS no less frequently than annually when prompted by the Traincaster system.
  • Members of the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and Animal Research Protection Program staff members who will perform facility inspections are also required to complete the risk assessment process.
  • Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should consult with their personal physician or OB/Gyn to discuss their risks and what precautions should be taken prior to exposure to animals or hazardous agents.

Evaluation of OHWS Information

Submitted OHWS information is reviewed by a licensed health care professional in University Health Services (UHS). Individuals will be contacted by UHS for further evaluation and/or medical monitoring or surveillance if necessary based on review of the submitted survey.

UHS protects submitted personal information using industry standard technologies. UHS follow the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as applicable, and does not share personal information with anyone else except as permitted by law or with written authorization by the individual as the patient.

  • Please call Brown University Health Services at 401-863-1330 or email [email protected] if you have any general (non-medical) questions related to the OHWS;

  • Discussion of possible health and safety risks associated with your job should begin with your supervisor;

  • The Animal Care Facility is also available to discuss animal-related health and safety concerns at 401-863-3223;

  • The Office of Environmental Health and Safety may be contacted at 401-863-3353 if additional training is needed.

Special Health Concerns when working with Animals

Animal Allergies: In the research setting, allergies to laboratory animals can become a serious concern and may affect anyone who works with animals. If you think you might be experiencing allergic symptoms due to your work with animals (including sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, skin rashes or hives, or wheezing), contact University Health Services to arrange for an evaluation.  If the exposure to animal allergens continues, such symptoms can ultimately progress to more serious breathing issues, including asthma.

Immune deficiency: If your immune system is weakened due to disease or medication use, you may need to take certain precautions.  You are encouraged to confidentially discuss your situation with University Health Services or with your personal care physician.

Pregnancy: If you are pregnant (or if you are planning a pregnancy), you may need to take certain precautions during your pregnancy. This may be important if you work with animals, chemicals, or other hazardous agents.  You are encouraged to confidentially discuss your situation with University Health Services or with your personal care physician.

Accidents, Injury or Illness

Individuals who experience an accident, injury or illness related to working with animals during regular business hours may seek treatment at University Health Services (UHS). UHS is located in the Andrews House at 13 Brown Street, Providence, RI, on the corner of Brown and Charlesfield Streets, and may be reached at (401) 863-3953.

UHS is also available after hours. Individuals should call (401) 863-4111 for Emergency Medical Services (EMS), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. EMS will respond and provide pre-hospital care, and transportation to the hospital or Health Services as indicated. Personnel may also visit emergency services at nearby Miriam Hospital.

Individuals who experience an accident, injury or illness related to working with animals must:

  • Report the event to their supervisor or Principal Investigator (PI), University Health Services (UHS), and Environmental Health & Safety (EHS).

  • Submit an Injury report to the Office of Insurance and Purchasing Services within 48 hours

IACUC Responsibilities

The IACUC has the responsibility to verify that the OHWS has been completed before an individual is allowed to work with animals. Individuals will not be granted access to animal areas until they have completed the OHWS. Individuals will not be able to be added to an approved IACUC protocol until they have completed the OHWS.