Environmental Health & Safety

University of Colorado Boulder


Overview of CU Boulder’s Occupational Health Program for Individuals with Animal Exposure

This Environmental Health & Safety guideline documentation is intended for researchers and laboratory personnel.

Revised as of October 21, 2014

The Occupational Health Program for individuals with animal exposure is a required portion of CU Boulder’s IACUC responsibilities. The federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) requires all institutions conducting animal research to provide occupational health support for all of its animal researchers and staff. The Occupational Health Program at CU Boulder is designed primarily to detect and prevent animal-related health hazards and injuries associated with animal research-related activities. The requirements of the Occupational Health Program are based on the guidelines in the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Who Should Participate in the Occupational Health Program?

All individuals at CU Boulder who have exposure to research and/or teaching animals must participate. This includes individuals who have animal exposure because they feed and handle animals, clean animal cages, are exposed to unfixed animal tissues, are exposed to animal wastes and/or bodily fluids.

These individuals generally include:

  • Veterinary staff associated with CU Boulder’s IACUC
  • Animal caretakers / technicians
  • Animal facility managers
  • Principal investigators on animal protocols

Graduate students, Undergraduate students, Post-doctoral fellows, visiting scientific personnel, other laboratory personnel who are listed on IACUC-approved protocols

It is the responsibility of the principal investigator, departments and facility managers to identify individuals who meet these criteria.

How do you enroll in CU Boulder’s Occupational Health Program?

Participation in CU Boulder’s Occupational Health Program is provided at no cost to all participants. CU Boulder’s Occupational Health Program consists of the following components:

  • Individuals completion of a pre-placement medical evaluation form;
  • Identification and communication of individual hazards and appropriate safeguards to personnel by CU Boulder’s Occupational Health nurse;
  • Communication of appropriate testing and vaccinations;
  • Appropriate training of personnel regarding their duties, any hazards, and necessary safeguards (including appropriate use of facilities, procedures and equipment) as determined by CU Boulder’s IACUC and Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC);
  • Application of policies that promote cleanliness, as determined by CU Boulder’s IACUC and IBC;
  • Communication about procedures for treating and documenting job-related injuries and illnesses, as determined by CU Boulder’s Department of Risk Management;
  • Training in good personal hygiene practices, prohibiting eating and drinking, use of tobacco products, and application of cosmetics and/or contact lenses in animal rooms and laboratories; and the proper and appropriate use of PPE, including the use of N95 masks and respirators
  • These components are consistent with OLAW’s requirements for an occupational health program.

Work Place Injuries or Illness?

On-the-job injuries and/or illnesses determined to be work or research-related should be immediately reported to the supervisor or Principal Investigator. CU Boulder’s Department of Risk Management (URM) will determine if your on-the-job illness or injury is eligible for coverage under workers’ compensation, as indicated by CU Boulder’s on-line Biosafety Training. Even if you are unsure if your injury or illness is animal-research related, you should consider submitting a claim form to URM.

If the injury or illness is an emergency, researchers or staff are required to go to preferred Workers’ Compensation providers designated by CU Boulder. These providers include Arbor Occupational Medicine, Workwell Occupational Medicine, Concentra Urgent Care, and Boulder Community Hospital. If researchers incur an emergent animal care or research-related illness or injury that requires immediate evaluation and treatment and they are not in the Boulder vicinity, they are advised to go to the nearest urgent care or emergency care provider.

If you are not covered under workers’ compensation, as determined by URM, you may need to seek care at your regular health care provider. If you are an undergraduate or graduate student, you are eligible to seek care at Wardenburg Health Center. Students who have CU Boulder’s student health insurance are eligible to have some or the majority of their care covered under their student health insurance plan, even if the injury or illness is not covered under workers’ compensation.