Comparative Medicine Core Facility

HSE in the animal facility

 

When working in an animal facility, you can get exposed to several different chemicals, drugs and biological factors. To reduce the risk of unwanted incidents, it is very important that you make yourself familiar with our local routines (Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs) before you start your work. SOPs for the most common safety procedures are found on this website. If you are going to perform other procedures, you need to perform a risk assessment and a new SOP. Contact head if facility if you have any questions.

Proper training is also important to reduce the risk of accidents and unwanted exposure. It is not allowed to perform any procedures without the necessary level of competence.

Allergens and anesthetic gases are some of the most important risk factors when working in an animal facility. You can find more information about allergy below.

 

Our HSE procedures for:

 

 

Allergy

Allergy towards laboratory animals (LAA) is relatively common among people working in an animal facility. Animal allergens are found in the urine, fur, saliva and serum of laboratory animal species such as rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.

Contamination of the occupational environment may occur by the allergens becoming airborne or being carried on clothing and other surfaces. All personnel who work directly or indirectly with animals and their waste products (including maintenance workers, waste disposal workers and other infrequent visitors to animal facilities) are therefore at risk of developing LAA.

Most workers who develop LAA do so within the first 3 years of exposure. During this time, their immune systems may be primed to produce specific IgE antibodies to one or more animal allergens and subsequent exposure may provoke clinical symptoms.

Symptoms

Allergic individuals may display any of a number of symptoms:

  • allergic rhinitis (a condition characterized by runny nose and sneezing similar to hay fever)
  • allergic conjunctivitis (irritation and tearing of the eyes)
  • asthma (characterized by wheezing and shortness of breath)
  • contact dermatitis (a red, bumpy rash that may appear where your skin touches the animal)

If you have a stuffy nose or other respiratory signs, and if it seems to last longer than a common cold (weeks instead of days) then you may very well be suffering from an allergy. If you develop suspicious symptoms whenever you're exposed to a certain species, then you're very likely to have an animal allergy.

If you develop such symptoms after working in the animal facility, please contact your leader and your HSE department as soon as possible.

  • 73598024 (HSE section at NTNU)
  • 73868105 (section for working environment at St. Olavs hospital)