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Occupational Health & Safety Program: Requirements for Individuals With Research Animal Exposure

UC San Diego's Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP) requirements for employees and affiliates who work with or near research animals.


Risk Assessments and Health Questionnaire Form A & Health Questionnaire Form B are required as per OHSP enrollment DO NOT SUBMIT THIS FORM BY EMAIL! These forms have protected health information creating a potential HIPAA violation and possible subsequent monetary fine.

OHSP enrollment is required for campus community members who have direct contact with animals, animal waste, animal tissue or enter the vivarium.


UC San Diego Occupational Health & Safety Program is administered by the Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine (COEM) and Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S). The OHSP is designed to promote a safe work environment by minimizing the risks of illness or injury associated with working with or around research animals.

Personnel working directly with research animals or who may have indirect animal contact face several occupational health risks, including the possibility of allergic reactions, animal-related injuries such as bites or kicks, zoonoses (diseases that spread from animals to humans), and exposure to hazardous materials.

This program includes initial enrollment with a required three-year review of animal exposure risks along with health history screening, routine and specialized immunizations, health surveillance, and wellness promotion.

The Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP) provides information and procedures to protect the health and safety of individuals working with or near research animals. This covers the Animal Care Program (ACP) staff, research staff, students, maintenance personnel, Instituational Animal Care and Use Committee members, and visitors.

Required Enrollment

OHSP enrollment is required for campus personnel who have direct contact with animals, animal waste, and animal tissue. It is also required for campus service personnel that may enter a vivarium or have indirect exposure to animals, entering animal research areas such as Campus Police, Custodial Services, and Facilities Management.

OHSP Program Elements:

  1. Risk assessment
    1. Workplace Risk/Safety Assessment
      1. Workplace reviews performed by ACP, IACUC, and EH&S
    2. Individual Risk Assessments and Health Questionnaire Form A & Health Questionnaire Form B
      1. Initial
      2. Every three years
  1. Personal Protective Equipment
  2. Training
    1. Initial
    2. Reoccurring
  1. Safety Considerations Meetings (Researchers, ACP, & EH&S)
  2. Medical surveillance
  3. Facilities / Equipment

Medical Surveillance


Participation in pre-placement medical surveillance is required for campus personnel who will have direct contact with research animals or may have indirect contact through their job classification (such as facilities Maintenance and PD). Volunteer enrollment into the OHSP is available to anyone with research related exposures. A three-year medical surveillance follow-up is required for anyone enrolled in the OHSP. In select cases, more frequent medical evaluations, testing, and vaccinations may be required as determined by COEM. See Vaccination for Researchers and Research Support Staff.

OHSP enrollment and medical monitoring are required for employees and students who:

  • Have direct contact with research animal or some animal tissue
  • Enter vivarium or animal housing rooms
  • Work with or enter areas with non-human primates, pregnant non-rodent mammals, wild birds, or wild mammals


PIs/supervisors are responsible for ensuring that faculty, staff, and students working in their research space that have animal contact participate in the OHSP.

Medical surveillance service providers

The EH&S Occupational Health Nurse and UC San Diego Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine (COEM) are the only acceptable providers of medical surveillance. Consultations, medical testing, immunizations and medical exams are specific to work/research activities and species contact.

  • PI/supervisor completes Form A, a Risk Assessment for the participant. The PI provides the completed Form A, to the participant to turn in with their completed and signed B Form.
  • The participant completes Form B, Health Questionnaire. The PI or supervisor is not allowed to view the participants form B, due to confidentiality laws and Health Insurance Portability Act (HIPPA) requirements. 
  • The participant returns their completed Forms A and B together to Occupational Health Nurse at fax (858) 724-3054 (confidential fax), or campus mail code 0090, or drop them off to the Central Research Services Building (CRSF) building room 231. Please do not send the form(s) via email due to campus HIPPA requirements.

Some individuals will be required to participate in additional medical surveillance or may be required to receive an occupational medical consult. Consultations for additional medical surveillance and medical consults are specific to the species/agents each person works with.

A UC San Diego Occupational Health Nurse reviews participant's Form A, Risk Assessment and Form B, Health Questionnaire. If the nurse has questions, they will contact the participant. Once all medical surveillance requirements are completed, a Medical Clearance Form will be emailed to enrolled individuals and their PI/supervisor. The form will indicate species clearance, immunization recommendations, additional medical evaluation (if applicable), and work restrictions (if applicable).

Failure to respond in a timely manner to the Occupational Health Nurse follow up questions will delay the vivarium clearance process. Vivarium access or the ability to work with or around animals may be delayed, denied or revoked by EH&S and COEM for failure to comply with occupational health requirements. Failure to complete the required three-year reassessment in a timely fashion may cause animal access to be suspended.

Scheduling Appointments with COEM

Important: If referred to UC San Diego Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine (COEM) for testing, immunizations or further evaluation you will receive a referral form to take with you to COEM. You will need to provide either your department index number or the EH&S recharge index number when you call to making a COEM appointment. This index is required for your appointment.

The office of the Occupational Health Nurse is on campus at the Central Research Services Building, located on Pharmacy Lane (off of Osler Lane) next to the Skaggs School of Pharmacy building. See COEM locations.

Department index number

Employees must provide a department index number when receiving services at COEM, generally only used for tracking purposes; however, if the Occupational Health Nurse does not authorize COEM services, the charge will be covered by the department index number.


  • Initial OHSP enrollment and screening for UC San Diego staff and registered volunteers is provided at no cost to the individual.
  • For UC San Diego paid individuals and registered volunteers:
    • Costs for additional medical evaluation, testing, vaccinations, or other medical services received at COEM are paid for through EH&S funding if recommended and approved by the Occupational Health Nurse.
  • For UC San Diego affiliates, individuals not paid by UC San Diego and unregistered volunteers:
    • The PI is responsible for the cost of additional medical evaluation or services (except vaccinations or TB testing) received at COEM when required to complete OSHP enrollments.
    • Campus EH&S funding currently covers the cost of vaccinations and TB testing at COEM, if recommended and approved by the EH&S Occupational Health Nurse. 


Recommended job-related immunizations are voluntary with the exception of mandatory immunizations indicated for specific work exposure (e.g., non-human primate contact may require measles vaccination).

How to get immunizations

  • Participants will receive email notification of immunizations recommended by the EH&S Bio Safety team or the Occupational Health Nurse. Only immunizations required or recommended by the Occupational Health Nurse will be provided at COEM.
  • Participants must call COEM to schedule an appointment at either the La Jolla office, (858) 657-1600, or the Hillcrest office, (619) 471-9210. Be ready to provide the index number listed at the bottom of your clearance form. See COEM locations.

Participants may choose to obtain vaccinations through their personal physicians. Copies of vaccination records may be requested by EH&S Bio Safety staff or the Occupational Health Nurse:

  • Fax: (858) 724-3054 (confidential fax)
  • Mail Code: 0090

Safety Training


All employees working with research animals must take Orientation to Animal Research at UC San Diego presented by Animal Care Program Technical Training Services.

Additional training may be required or recommended for specific risk factors or conditions specific to your job tasks.


PIs are responsible for assessing health and safety risks associated with their research projects and implementing appropriate Hazard Control Plans, engineering controls, Personal Protective Equipment, and safety training.

Consult with Environment, Health & Safety for the following:

  • Facilities design and maintenance
  • Research design and procedures
  • Hazardous materials involved

Related Links and Resources

Contact the EH&S Occupational Health Nurse, (858) 534-8225, or the Vivarium Safety Officer, (858) 534-6715.