Animal Handling Safety

Animal Handler Health Surveillance (AHHS) Program

All personnel who handle animals in teaching or research must participate in the AHHS program. Participation involves completion of a Risk Assessment and History Form (RAHF) prior to work with animals. A tetanus immunization is highly recommended for all individuals with animal contact. Other immunizations and screening as well as medical evaluation may be needed in some cases. Please review the AHHS program for further information.

Animal Handling Practices

  1. Be aware of the potential health and safety hazards associated with working with animals.

  2. Use appropriate engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment to reduce or eliminate hazards. Potential hazards may include:
  • Physical hazards: animal bites/scratches/kick, high noise, sharps, wet flooring
  • Biological hazards: microorganisms, animal dander, parasites
  • Chemical hazards: anesthetics, cleaning agents, carcinogens, flammables, toxics, corrosives, irritants
  • Radioactive materials
  1. Wash your hands after handling animals and before leaving work area. Always use soap and water.

  2. All laboratory animals must be transported only on freight elevators; passenger elevators must not be used for this purpose.

  3. Animals must be caged or restrained and, if possible, properly draped when transported throughout buildings. Research animals must be kept in the vivarium except when they are actively involved in a research experiment; overnight stays in lab areas are not allowed except as approved by the Department of Comparative Medicine (DCM) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

  4. Perform animal manipulations in a well-ventilated area, preferably a chemical fume hood or biological safety cabinet.

  5. Contact the DCM for information on disposal of animal carcasses. Radioactive animal carcasses require special labeling, packaging, and disposal procedures which must be handled through the OEHS.