CARE Occupational Health and Safety

The objectives of this Occupational Health and Safety Program is to provide a safe working environment and practices to Cornell faculty, researchers and their staff, animal facility personnel, and students involved with the care and use of research animals.

"An occupational health and safety program must be part of the overall animal care and use program."
                                  - The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Animal Users Health and Safety Program (AUHSP)

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Cornell University's Animal Users Health and Safety Program (AUHSP) is a shared responsibility among four principal units: the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), the Center for Animal Resources and Education (CARE) at Cornell University, Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) and Cornell Health. The objective of the AUHSP is to identify and track persons having direct or indirect contact with animals used in research and teaching, for the purpose of evaluating the human health risks associated with that contact and taking steps to ensure that health risks for each individual are managed to an acceptable level.

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People who must participate in the AUHSP include:

  • Animal care staff, CARE veterinarians, and veterinary technicians
  • People named to animal protocols (including visiting scholars, undergraduate students, etc)
  • IACUC members
  • Cornell employees having no direct contact with and no responsibilities related to animals, but who as part of their job duties work in animal housing facilities or animal procedure rooms (e.g., those working in laboratories/procedure rooms where others are using animals, custodial staff, building maintenance staff, Cornell shops personnel)
  • Outside contractors working in animal housing facilities
  • Volunteers
  • Visitors
  • Students enrolled in classes that use vertebrate animals

To enroll in the AUHSP, contact ORIA at (607) 255-6439 or send an email to


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If there is a Cornell-owned animal emergency call the CARE Pager: 1-800-349-2456.

If there is a medical emergency call 911.

Cornell is committed to protecting the welfare of its community members as well as its intellectual property and facilities. The university strives to minimize the impacts of emergencies and maximize the effectiveness of the campus community in responding to and recovering from their inevitable occurrences. Every member of the Cornell Community has a stake in this and by working together we can be better prepared to meet the enormous challenges that emergencies bring. Please refer to the Cornell Emergency Plan.


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Cornell Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) provides assistance with health and safety information and training in various areas; please refer to the EHS web site. CARE also sponsors educational programs; please refer to the CARE Education web site for more information.


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The AUHSP Working Group meets monthly to evaluate protocols and amendments, inspects facilities, monitors incidents of animal diseases, reviews risk assessment forms, and is a resource for training for occupational health and safety issues. Potential hazards associated with animal care and use include:

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  • Animal bites, kicks, and scratches
  • Sharps
  • Chemical and radiological hazards
  • Noise
  • Zoonotic agents

People with allergies or special health concerns may be at increased risk from potential hazards in animal facilities. Refer to the CARE Hazards Analysis page for more information.

Risk Management

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  • Enroll in the AUHSP.
  • Receive adequate training in animal restraint and handling, laboratory safety, and safe work practices.
  • Follow requirements for entry into and exit from animal facilities/rooms.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as recommended. Respirator (e.g. N95, PAPR, etc.) use requires annual fit testing and training. This service is offered by EHS.
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  • Use good personal hygiene: wash hands after animal contact and before leaving the animal facility; do not eat, drink, smoke, handle contact lenses, or apply cosmetics in work areas and wash hands before engaging in these activities.
  • Utilize engineering controls when appropriate (e.g. biosafety cabinet).
  • Report any accidents, illnesses and injuries on the Cornell University Injury/Illness/Exposure Report/a>.
  • When seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for an illness, inform medical professionals of your history of working with animals.


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Although infrequent, the risk of infection between research animals and humans does exist and must be recognized in order to avoid exposure.

Unless experimentally infected with a zoonotic agent, research animals generally carry a limited number of infectious microorganisms of concern to animal users. This is mainly due to the existence of preventative medicine programs and the frequent use of specific pathogen free animals in research projects. Although infrequent, the risk of infection between research animals and humans does exist and must be recognized in order to avoid exposure.


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For example, dogs or cats may shed Giardia in their feces, rodents naturally carry a bacteria that causes rat-bite fever in humans, wild-caught mammals might be infected with the rabies virus, and Salmonella could be shed by a number of domestic and wild species, from reptiles to cows.

Refer to the CARE Zoonoses Information Pages below: