The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Program for individuals with live animal exposure is a required portion of CU Boulder’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) responsibilities. The federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) requires all institutions conducting animal research to provide occupational health and safety support for all of its animal researchers and staff. The OHS program at CU Boulder is designed primarily to detect and prevent animal-related health hazards and injuries associated with animal research-related activities. The requirements of the OHS Program are based on the guidelines in the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Contact us at to schedule a training. Please include the name of the Principal Investigator of the laboratory you are joining, the species you are working with, and your student or employee ID number.

FAQs About OHS Program, Protected Health Information, and Confidentiality

What free services are provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Program?
  • Allergy prevention
    • Pulmonary function testing (as needed)
    • N95 or half-face elastomeric respirator fit-testing
    • Rodent immunoglobulin E (IgE) testing for allergies
  •  Risk-assessment and communication
    • Training
    • Noise testing
    • Workplace safety assessments
    • Chemical and biological hazard assessments related to animal research
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) selection guidance
  •  Work-related immunizations and/or appropriate antibody titers
  • Travel visits and travel immunizations for field researchers
How do I enroll in the Occupational Health and Safety Program?

In-person training is scheduled upon request. Please email OHSP.

Our occupational health nurse will then email you a confidential, unique link to an online questionnaire, the Occupational Health Program Animal Exposure Questionnaire, which you should fill out promptly. The questionnaire is HIPAA compliant protected medical information, stored securely. Only the occupational health nurse is able to view your answers to the questionnaire. After reviewing your questionnaire, she may contact you to discuss your risks from working with laboratory or field research animals.  She may contact you to discuss strategies to prevent or control laboratory animal allergies.  She may also contact you to discuss your international or domestic field work, mitigation of any risks that may be encountered in your field research, and the need for any immunizations or prophylactic medications for your trip.

To maintain enrollment initial enrollees must also update their health status by filling out an Annual Occupational Health Questionnaire. Failure to complete the initial or annual occupational health questionnaire removes a person from the Occupational Health and Safety Program and restricts the person’s access to research animals.

Who is required to participate in CU Boulder’s OHS Program?

All individuals at CU Boulder who have exposure to live research and/or teaching animals must participate. 

These individuals generally include:

  • Veterinary staff associated with CU Boulder’s IACUC
  • Animal caretakers/technicians
  • Animal facility managers
  • Principal investigators on animal protocols
  • Graduate students, undergraduate students, post-doctoral fellows, visiting scientific personnel, other laboratory personnel who are listed on IACUC-approved protocols

It is the responsibility of the principal investigator, departments and facility managers to identify individuals who meet these criteria.

The Animal Occupational Health Surveillance Questionnaire must be filled out by all animal researchers and animal care staff at CU Boulder in order to enter animal research areas. Maintaining access to animal research areas also includes filling out the Annual Occupational Health Questionnaire on a yearly basis.  Participation in CU Boulder’s Occupational Health and Safety Program is a requirement of the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare and is required to maintain our university’s federal funding for animal research. Personnel will be notified via their CU Boulder campus email address about how to access this form.

The information on this questionnaire will be seen and reviewed only by occupational health personnel at Wardenburg Health Center.  No personal health information will be shared with principal investigators, supervisors, colleagues, departments.  De-identified aggregate health data will be compiled to evaluate common health risks and general health trends associated with working in animal facilities.

When will I need to begin participating in CU Boulder’s Occupational Health Program?

Wardenburg Health Center (WHC), in collaboration with the Office for the Vice Chancellor for Research, has developed an on-line questionnaire designed to address OLAW’s requirements for Occupational Health and Safety on this campus. The Occupational Health Animal Exposure Questionnaire and the Annual Occupational Health Questionnaire are surveillance tools to assess the initial and ongoing health status of all participants who conduct and support animal research on this campus. This tool helps us gauge your risks for animal-research related health conditions. All relevant faculty, staff and students will be notified to fill out this questionnaire.

During the initial deployment of the Animal Exposure Questionnaire in December 2012, no one was restricted from their research or animal care duties. Since its initial deployment, new individuals may be restricted from animal contact until they have completed the questionnaire and all other animal-research training requirements. New individuals can expect to wait up to a couple of days until their questionnaires have been reviewed.

After the initial questionnaires have been processed, individuals who continue to participate in animal research protocols or who are staff with continued animal exposure risks will need to fill out the shorter annual questionnaire geared to determining any health status changes due to repeated animal exposures.

Who will have access to the results of my Occupational Health surveillance form?

The Occupational Health Program at CU Boulder is designed primarily to detect and prevent animal-related health hazards and injuries associated with animal research-related activities. The requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Program are based on the guidelines in the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The Occupational Health Nurse will have access to all surveillance forms. On occasion this surveillance form will be available to certain health care providers.

Will the information from the questionnaire be added to my health record?

If you are a student, your OHS records will not be included in your primary health records, unless you ask that immunizations, titers or allergy testing results via the OHSP be included in your primary health records. If an individual comes to the clinic to be seen for an animal-research related injury, their health care provider can have access to their hard copy records. Otherwise, there is no reason to include results of the questionnaire in a student’s electronic medical records. There is no reason for health care providers to see the questionnaire unless the student is at WHC for an illness or injury compatible with their occupational health risks. Worker’s Compensation (WC) providers may request the Occupational Health file from WHC if the records are pertinent to the individual’s visit to the WC provider. There is no automatic transfer of the information provided by individuals to their personal medical record.

Can this information affect my eligibility for employment or my insurability?

The health data will only be accessible by the Occupational Health nurse and any health care provider that is seeing a patient for an animal-research related exposure, illness or injury at Wardenburg Health Center.  Patients following up with a worker’s compensation issues may request their Occupational Health Questionnaire be sent to them in order for them to take it with them to their designated medical provider for worker’s compensation.

If the patient has a reportable illness, portions of the patient’s medical record must be reported to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE), per state law. The reporting system is secure and HIPAA compliant. Information regarding a reportable condition or illness never gets to insurance companies, PIs or supervisors via either the Occupational Health Program or CDPHE. However, it is important to note that individuals with reportable conditions become part of public health investigations. Every effort is made to protect the ill individual during the process of a public health investigation. If unable to maintain strict confidentiality, we do ask permission to disclose certain portions of their diagnosis by having the patient sign a release of information form.

The role of CU Boulder’s Occupational Health and Safety Program is to examine how a patient sustained an injury, caught an illness or became otherwise ill from their work with animals. Occupational Health’s role is to prevent the injury, illness or condition from happening again to someone else. Occupational Health is a separate service from Worker’s Compensation.

Will you communicate illness/injury/exposure information to my PI?

The Occupational Health RN will initially talk directly to the patient about any work-related concerns. The OH RN will recommend PPE use, if applicable. The OH RN may suggest further evaluation by the patient’s primary care provider. In rare circumstances, the OH RN will restrict laboratory activities until a medical evaluation is completed. The health condition will never be communicated to the PI or supervisor. Recommendations for the individual may be communicated to the PI or supervisor.  (E.g., PPE recommendations for an individual will be communicated to a PI or their lab manager; diagnoses are not communicated.)

If a work-related illness, injury or exposure occurs, the affected individual is expected to report this to University Risk Management as well as to their supervisor.  Reporting automatically allows at least an initial visit to a designated worker’s compensation provider.

The role of the Occupational Health and Safety Program in animal research is mainly to provide preventative services, training, direct patients to appropriate care, and to look for concerning health trends.

What do I do if I have an injury/illness?

In case of emergency call 911. For non-emergencies, please contact University Risk Management.