Research Policy Handbook


University Laboratory Animal Occupational Health Program

Policy Authority

Administrative Panel on Laboratory Animal Care (A-PLAC)

Policy Contact

Now in Policy Details

Describes the medical oversight of the occupational health surveillance program for individuals involved with animal care and use. 

1. Background

The University's Laboratory Animal Occupational Health Program (LAOHP) is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of all faculty, staff, students and visiting scholars who work directly with vertebrate animals, unfixed animal tissues or body fluids, and those who work in animal housing areas. This program is authorized by federal regulations and Stanford's external accrediting agency. The LAOHP has been designed to:

  • Protect individuals from work related risks associated with exposure to animals through a program of species-specific health information, education, and risk-based medical evaluation
  • Protect the health of research animals from certain transmissible diseases
  • Be specific and pertinent to the species with which individuals are exposed and the work they perform
  • Be minimally intrusive
  • Be cost-effective

LAOHP is a part of the broader Animal Research Occupational Health and Safety Program (AROSHP), which covers all issues pertaining to human health and safety when working with or around vertebrate animals, unfixed animal tissues or body fluids, or in animal housing areas. AROSHP serves as the main point of contact for Stanford groups outside of EH&S for any issues, questions, or concerns relating to animals and safety, while health-related concerns are managed through LAOHP. AROSHP is led by subject matter experts in EH&S who collaborate and work closely with Stanford University Occupational Health Clinic staff  on LAOHP or related issues as needed.

2. Occupational Health Center (SUOHC)

The Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC) is the on-campus medical center and resource for all Stanford University faculty, staff, students, and visiting scholars who work directly with vertebrate animals, unfixed animal tissues, or body fluids, as well as those personnel who work in animal housing areas. The SUOHC, staffed by clinicians specializing in Occupational Medicine and with experience in lab animal allergy and zoonoses, provides occupational medicine services as well as guidance pertaining to LAOHP.

Annually all members of LAOHP are tasked to submit a health questionnaire that assesses potential exposures and health concerns; these questionnaires are evaluated by the SUOHC clinicians for determination as to whether further intervention steps or follow-up interactions are necessary.  This includes employees in the VSC, whose personnel undergo annual screening within the SUOHC in alignment with medical surveillance protocols. 

3. Risk-Based Participation

The requirements for participation in the LAOHP depend upon an individual's level of potential risk. There are two defined categories of risk within the LAOHP: Risk Category 1 (RC1) and Risk Category 2 (RC2). The Administrative Panel on Laboratory Animal Care (A-PLAC) will determine the risk category for research and teaching individuals during the protocol review process. SUOHC may revise the Risk Category based on individual risk relative to risk associated with species or protocols.

Risk Category 1 (RC1)

Risk Category 1 (RC1) encompasses Veterinary Service Center (VSC) personnel, other dedicated animal care staff, and individuals who work with non-human primates (including unfixed tissue and bodily fluids), hoofed mammals (e.g., swine, goats, sheep, cows), wild rodents, bats, or birds, and certain field studies. The specific risk factors are variable and dependent upon specific uses and handling identified in the animal care and use protocol application. The Risk Category 1 (RC1) classification additionally consists of personnel whose procedural, protocol, or job function risk analysis has indicated the need for enhanced medical review or in-person screening by the Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).  This includes the following groups:

  • VSC and Animal Care personnel, including veterinarians, husbandry staff, and cage-washing staff
  • Individuals who work directly with, or in close proximity to (same room as) the following:
    • Non-human primates (including their unfixed tissue and bodily fluids)
    • Hoofed mammals (e.g., swine, goats, sheep, cows)
    • Wild rodents, bats, and birds
  • Those involved in either domestic or international field studies
  • Personnel identified with lab animal allergy
  • Any other study deemed appropriate for this classification by the IACUC review
  • Personnel involved in the health and safety oversight of these RC1 activities at Stanford

RC1 Participation Requirements

All individuals in RC1 group must complete and submit the LAOHP Health Questionnaire prior to the A-PLAC approval of an individual to work on a related protocol or assignment. Each questionnaire will be evaluated by a Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC) Clinician to determine the level of potential exposure and whether further steps are necessary. Specific medical surveillance may be conducted for other groups based upon additional risk factors identified by the individual or flagged by Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) for review. 

Risk Category 2 (RC2) 

Risk Category 2 (RC2) is for all individuals involved in animal care and use protocols that do not fall within the RC1 participation group.

RC2 Participation Requirements

All individuals in RC2 group are provided with information, educational materials, and periodic updates on potential health and safety issues associated with the particular animal species or research material with which they work. These individuals are assigned into a medical surveillance program that prompts, and sends reminders for, LAOHP Health Questionnaire completion. RC2 personnel are considered program participants upon their receipt of information about the program and risk of animal allergies and are considered enrolled following receipt of the LAOHP questionnaire.

4. In-Service Training and Education

The SUOHC staff and other subject matter experts within EH&S also provide periodic in-service training, seminars, and education programs. These programs emphasize the specific risks associated with different types of laboratory animals and provide guidance to research and support personnel on appropriate methods of exposure control and protection.

5. Summary

Stanford is committed to protecting the safety and welfare of its faculty, staff, and student and is proactive in educating and alerting individuals about work-related health risks and counseling them on methods to minimize workplace hazards.  The LAOHP complies with outside regulations associated with the use and welfare of animal subjects and is dedicated to process improvement. 

Your cooperation is essential to the success of this program. For questions about the occupational health program or SUOHC, please contact EH&S (650-723-0448) or SUOHC (650-725-5308). Please contact the APLAC Office (650-723-4550) with questions about the animal research protocols and risk level assigned.