Friday, February 12, 2010

The Protection of Medical Surveillance Programs on Both Employees and Institutions.

There are numerous reasons to implement medical surveillance programs for our animal care staff. This article stress on the regulatory requirements that drive the need for these programs and the other benefits and challenges to implementing a program in a lab animal facility.

A lot of us are aware that, in order to conduct federally funded animal research, an institution must be in compliance with various federal laws on the use of animals. What some employers don't know, however, is that these laws also need the protection of employees who support this research. Some of these guidelines and regulations are outlined here.

1. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that institutions using animals have:

* An effective Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
* A veterinary care program in place
* Qualified animal care staff
* Procedures for reporting concerns regarding animal welfare

2. The Public Health Policy on the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals outlines the requirements of an animal care and use program.1 Each institution that receives Public Health Services support or that is covered under the AWA must have an occupational safety and health program and that program must be part of the entire animal care and use program (CDC, NIH 1993; CFR1984 a,b,c; PHS Policy). According to OLAW, elements of an occupational safety and health program are as follows:

* Administrative procedures
* Facility design and operations
* Risk assessment
* Exposure control
* Education and training
* Occupational Health Care Services
* Personal protective equipment
* Equipment performance
* Information management
* Emergency procedures
* Program evaluation2

3. From the BMBL 4th ed. Section V Risk Assessment:

“Medical surveillance ensures that the safeguards decided upon in fact produces the expected health outcomes. Medical surveillance is part of risk management. It may include serum banking, monitoring employee health status, and involving in post-exposure management.”

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