Saint Louis University is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy research environment, where exposure to biological, chemical, and physical health hazards is kept to minimum levels.
In an effort to mitigate risk and ensure compliance with applicable local, state and federal regulations, the University has established the Occupational Health Program for Laboratory and Animal Research (OHP). The principal objective of the OHP is to prevent occupational injury and illness.
SLU's vice president for research has approved the University Occupational Health Program for Laboratory and Animal Research Policy to ensure that all persons at the University who are potentially exposed to some level of risk because of their work in or near a research laboratory or animal facility have access to the OHP.
The policy applies to all persons working at the University including staff, faculty, students, independent contractors, collaborators and other non-university personnel who work in or near a research laboratory or animal facility. All individuals working in or having access to Saint Louis University research laboratories or animal research facilities must participate in the OHP. Participation in the OHP is also required under the Select Agent Rule (42 CFR 73) and under the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA by individuals working with Risk Group 3 recombinant materials.
For persons who meet the above criteria, the extent and level of participation in the OHP is based on a risk assessment of the hazards posed by their assigned duties and the applicable setting including: animals and hazardous materials used; exposure intensity, duration, and frequency; susceptibility of personnel; and history of occupational illness and injury in the workplace.
Individuals working within SLU animal facilities who are involved in the direct care of vertebrate animals and their living quarters; those individuals who have direct contact with animals (live or dead), their viable tissues, body fluids, or wastes should also refer to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The OHP enrollment process is divided into two paths: new hires and existing personnel. The path for new hires begins with a position specific risk assessment as part of the University job requisition process. If the duties of a position are determined to fall under one or more risk exposure categories, a pre-hire candidate will be notified that they are required to participate in the OHP.
Existing personnel are referred for enrollment into the OHP through their involvement in an Institutional Biosafety Committee or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee protocol, through transfer to a new position or a referral by their supervisor.
New and existing University research personnel required to participate in the OHP should enroll in the program and take all required training courses as determined by the risk exposure categories of their position.
Enrollment in the OHP follows a sequence of steps:
- Complete the Occupational Health Medical History Questionnaire (MQ) and submit it to Employee Health. The MQ is a confidential medical document, and as such should be completed by the participant and sent directly to EH; it is maintained in the clinic's medical records and is not returned to the participant or the University. Note: Principal investigators and supervisors should be prepared to assist new personnel with completing the Laboratory Animal Exposure History section, because they may not be fully aware of the species of animals or frequency of exposure they will have in their new position.
- The MQ is then reviewed by Employee Health (EH) to assign the participating individual to one of three pre-defined risk categories. EH will consult with the Department of Comparative Medicine (CM) and the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) to determine any training requirements for lab and chemical safety, biohazards, radiation safety, field safety, driver training, and ergonomics.
- Both the participant and their supervisor will be notified by EHS (for general laboratory work/settings) or CM (for those engaged in animal care and use) of the risk category the participant has been assigned to and given any specific instructions regarding their continuing participation in the OHP.
- Following review of the MQ, EH may recommend risk specific preventive measures, such as immunizations, additional tests or health monitoring.
- Once the assessment is complete, the results of the assessment are returned to the participant and the supervisor notifying them of the final determination and of any requirements. No personal medical information will be included in this notification.
- Once the participant has fulfilled the recommendations or provided justification for exclusion, they may begin work in the applicable research activities.
- The participant and their supervisor must ensure that the MQ is kept current with respect to any changes in job or task and any changes in animal contact or exposure to hazardous agents. Significant changes in activities may require a new risk assessment and EHS must be contacted.
- Each participant is responsible for ensuring that they submit an updated MQ whenever there is a significant change in their health status.
Non-university research personnel and independent contractors must participate in a comparable OHP through their employer. Contact Employee Health at 314-268-5499 for guidance on the verification process.
Visitors are exempt from participation in the University's OHP, but those visiting animal facilities and laboratories are subject to University Policy AC-006, which stipulates they are required to sign the Visitor Assumption of Risk and Release Agreement.
Training is essential for adequate preparation to work safely in laboratories and animal facilities. Personnel are required to attend all mandatory training as outlined below and their reporting unit's guidelines per university policies (University Policy RC-006). Managers are encouraged to review the OHP Risk Categories and Training Matrix with their staff.
|Exposure Risk Category||Required Training Course Title|
|Direct Patient Contact||Bloodborne Pathogen Training|
|Research Laboratory Worker||Laboratory Safety and Compliance Training|
|Research Animals and Animal Facilities||Mandatory Animal Use Orientation|
|Occupational Health Program Training|
|Laboratory Safety and Compliance Training|
|Support Positions serving research labs and animal facilities (i.e., Housekeeping, Facilities, Public Safety, etc.)||Hazard Awareness Training for Support Staff|
|Bloodborne Pathogens||Bloodborne Pathogen Training|
|Recombinant DNA||Laboratory Safety and Compliance Training|
|Risk Group 2 Biological Agents||Laboratory Safety and Compliance Training|
|Risk Group 3 Biological Agents||Laboratory Safety and Compliance Training|
|Select Agents||Select Agent Awareness|
|Toxic Chemicals||Laboratory Safety and Compliance Training|
|Radioactive Materials||Radiation Safety Orientation|
|X-Rays (Machine Produced Radiation)||Radiation Safety Training for X-ray and Fluoroscopy Users|
|Laser Use (Class 3b or 4)||Laser Safety (SkillSoft)|
Personnel are encouraged to seek out training opportunities beyond the minimally required courses. Supervisors and reporting units should promote continued training by incorporating occupational health and safety topics in their internal meetings and activities.