Occupational Health & Safety Program

What is the Occupational Health & Safety Program (OHSP)?

The Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP) for Personnel with Animal Contact is a part of the University of Maine IACUC overall program of animal care and focuses on maintaining a safe and healthy environment for individuals with exposure to animals. Participation in the OHSP is required for all personnel who have contact with animals.

See also Tips About your Health and Working with Animals

Why is participation required?

Participation in the OHSP is required per federal regulations. The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide) states that:

  • “Each institution must establish and maintain an occupational health and safety program as an essential part of the overall Program of animal care and use… The nature of the OHSP will depend on the facility, research activities, hazards, and animal species involved.” (page 17)
  • “A comprehensive OHSP should include a hierarchy of control and prevention strategies that begins with the identification of hazards and the assessment of risk associated with those hazards. An effective occupational health and safety program must encompass all personnel that have contact with animals.” (page 18)

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.

Who should participate in the OHSP?

All individuals at the University of Maine who have exposure to research and/or teaching animals must participate. Some examples include: animal caretakers/technicians, principal investigators, veterinary staff and personnel listed on active IACUC protocols.

What does participation involve?

Upon enrolling in the OHSP, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire with questions about your health history, and the animals and potentially hazardous substances you will be handling. The questionnaire will be reviewed by a nurse specializing in occupational health. The nurse will follow up with you if any further action is required. Once you have completed this process, you will receive OHSP clearance.

How often do investigators need to update their enrollment?

In accordance with federal requirements for periodic updates to ensure the OHSP captures changes to your health and job description a new questionnaire must be completed if your job responsibilities change or there is a change in your health status.

Where can I find the OHSP form?

The Animal Health Surveillance questionnaire is available online. Instructions for where to return the form is on the questionnaire.


Adapted from IACUC training and occupational health and safety HMA Standing Committee on Animals at Harvard Medical School