THE CONTROL OF EXPOSURE TO LABORATORY ANIMAL ALLERGENS

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					LONDON’S GLOBAL UNIVERSITY




                THE CONTROL OF EXPOSURE TO
               LABORATORY ANIMAL ALLERGENS

                    UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
This UCL Approved Code of Practice has been produced by Safety Services under the
auspices of the Health and Safety Management Team. It has been drawn up making use of
guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive and has been subject to wide
consultation.

It has been approved for use in UCL and its constituent departments and institutes by the
Health and Safety Management Team.

It is subject to regular review and Safety Services welcome comments and suggestions
which should be made to mailto:safety@ucl.ac.uk. The current version is available on the
Safety Services website at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/efd/safety_services_www/




                              First Published:      July 2003
                                  UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                             Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens



Scope
This UCL Approved Code of Practice (UCL – ACOP) aims to:

   •   set health and safety standards for work with animals to control exposure to animal
       allergens;
   •   give information on identifying levels of risk of exposure to animal allergens
       associated with work with animals; and
   •   provide practical advice on how the standards may be met and ways in which any
       significant risk can be reduced to an acceptable level.

Application
This UCL - ACOP is relevant to all who work with animals or have responsibility for those
who do.

Introduction
In pursuit of its research and teaching objectives, work with laboratory animals forms an
important part of UCL's normal activity. It is the policy of UCL to take all reasonably
practicable steps to control the risks of working with laboratory animals, in particular the
exposure to laboratory animal allergens (LAA).

This document, a UCL - ACOP, provides a mechanism by which departments can fulfil their
duty to manage the risk associated with LAA and as such it forms part of UCL's
arrangements for safety under its Statement of Safety Policy in accordance with the Control
of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH).

This UCL - ACOP, which has been approved by the Health and Safety Management Team
(HSMT), gives practical advice on how to comply with UCL policy. If departments follow the
advice they will be doing enough to comply with the policy. Departments may use alternative
methods to those set out in the UCL - ACOP but if so will have to show that they complied
with the policy in some other way.

For the purposes of this UCL - ACOP 'allergen' is defined as "A material of animal origin
which has the potential to induce sensitisation in exposed individuals through inhalation or
skin contact. Sensitisation resulting from exposure may result in upper respiratory or eye
symptoms, asthma, dermatitis, urticaria or rarely anaphylactic shock. Animal materials with
the potential to cause allergy include hair, skin flakes, body fluids, excreta (especially rodent
urine), animal bedding, dust arising from the handling of animals and aerosols containing
material produced by processes such as tissue preparation, homogenisation and
maceration", and is abbreviated to LAA, Laboratory Animal Allergen.

The Risk
The HSMT has considered the risk to those working with laboratory animals and concluded
that, because of the nature of the allergic response, anyone coming into contact with LAA is
at risk of becoming sensitised and subsequently developing allergic disease, whilst those
already exhibiting early symptoms of occupational allergy e.g. rhinitis, will be at greater risk
of developing more serious disease if exposure continues. This UCL - ACOP therefore aims
to provide a framework for optimum control of exposure to all persons working with LAA.



                                            Page 3 of 13
                          UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                     Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens



ABBREVIATIONS

BS           Biological Services
BSO          Biological Safety Officer
COSHH        Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999
HSE          Health and Safety Executive
HSMT         Health and Safety Management Team
LAA          Laboratory Animal Allergens
LEV          Local Exhaust Ventilation
OHS          Occupational Health Service
PPE          Personal Protective Equipment
RPE          Respiratory Protective Equipment
UCL - ACOP   UCL Approved Code of Practice




                                    Page 4 of 13
                             UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                        Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens




Management of the Risk
1.0 Use of facilities
UCL - ACOP                     Use of Biological Services facilities

                               1 All work with laboratory animals should preferably be
                               carried out in dedicated facilities such as those in Biological
1.1                            Services (BS).

Guidance                       2    Discuss your requirements with BS staff.

                               3 Where it is not possible to use BS facilities this UCL -
1.1                            ACOP or its equivalent should be followed.

UCL - ACOP                     Use of Departmental facilities

                               4 Work with animals coming under the Animals (Scientific
                               Procedures) Act 1986 conducted within departmental space
                               may only be carried out in a 'designated area' and then
                               subject to a risk assessment.

                               5 Work with other animals, such as insects, may only be
1.2                            conducted in rooms so designated by the department.

Guidance                       6 Rooms where work with animals that come under the
                               Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 are listed in the
                               Certificate of Designation. Ask your Departmental
                               Designated Contact if unsure of the status of the room you
                               wish to use.

                               7 Rooms where work with other animals may be carried
                               out should be identified in the departmental list of rooms
1.2                            suitable for animal work.

UCL - ACOP                     Risk assessment

                               8 All work conducted within departmental space must be
                               subject to a risk assessment that determines the risk of
1.3                            exposure to laboratory animal allergen (LAA).

Guidance                       9 A downloadable copy of the risk assessment form is at
                               http://www.safety.ucl.ac.uk

                               10 If the risk assessment results in the likelihood of
                               exposure to LAA being other than low then the Department
                               must consider alternatives:
                                • relocate the work;
                                • improve the existing facilities;
                                • ensure appropriate personal protective equipment
1.3                               (PPE) is worn until risk reduced.




                                       Page 5 of 13
                        UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                   Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens


2.0 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
UCL - ACOP                Personal Protective Equipment

                          11 When working with animals suitable PPE should be
2.1                       worn.

Guidance                  12 Note that whilst PPE is normally a last resort, in the
                          case of LAA, the HSMT notes that the Health and Safety
                          Executive (HSE) consider that as animal allergens are a
                          known respiratory sensitiser with no known lower threshold
                          limit the risk is sufficiently high for it to be recommended
                          that all those involved in handling animals wear a mask.

                          13 The recommended mask is disposable, FFP2 standard
                          (particulate filtration) which may be obtained from a number
                          of suppliers including 3M. These are not intended for single
                          use and may be stored in the bag provided and reused until
                          the wearer feels they are becoming blocked.

                          14 This advice is for all staff working with animals,
                          additionally this recommendation may become mandatory
                          for staff who:
                           • work in areas where the risk assessment for exposure
                               is other than low;
                           • have developed symptoms since commencing work
                               with animals that suggest the development of allergy;
                           • have a history of allergy to LAA.

                          15 Managers will identify staff for whom these
                          recommendations are mandatory as a result of risk
                          assessment or advice from the Occupational Health Service
                          (OHS). Staff who develop symptoms of allergy that persist
                          despite the use of Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE)
                          must undergo further investigation through the OHS to
                          determine the control measures that must be implemented:
                           • normal laboratory practice should be followed regarding
                              the wearing of lab coats etc;
                           • specific PPE should be worn in addition depending on
                              the circumstances for example strong gloves when
                              handling certain animals; respiratory protective
2.1                           equipment when advised by the OHS.

3.0 Health surveillance
UCL - ACOP                Health Surveillance

                          16 All people working with animals must be screened by
                          the OHS before commencing work with animals and on a
                          regular basis thereafter, appropriate to the risk of exposure
3.1                       to LAA.

Guidance                  17 All Departments should appoint a Designated Contact
                          for, inter alia, liaison with OHS. Principal Investigators
                          should provide the Designated Contact with the names of
                          all new workers with access to rooms in which work with
                          animals is to be carried out.
                                  Page 6 of 13
                  UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
             Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens


                    18 The Departmental Contact will ensure that an
                    appointment is made for the person to attend the OHS.

                    19 The OHS will report to the Departmental Contact that
                    health screening has been completed and advise on non-
                    attendees. Persistent non-attendees should be reported to
                    the Head of Department.

                    20 The OHS will report to the Head of Department and the
                    Director of Human Resources when there are conditions
                    placed upon an individual’s fitness to work with animals, or
                    when anyone is considered medically unfit to work with
                    animals.
3.1

UCL - ACOP          21 Those working with animals should be subject to
3.2                 periodic health screening.

Guidance            22 Following initial health screening individuals should be
                    routinely screened at six weeks, twelve weeks and six
                    monthly intervals during the first two years following
                    commencement of work with laboratory animals.
                    Subsequent routine screening will be carried out annually.
                    More frequent screening may be advised by OHS in
                    individual cases. The details of the health screening will
                    conform with current best practice and therefore may vary
                    from time to time.

                    23 Follow-up questionnaires will be sent to individuals
3.2                 concerned.

UCL - ACOP          24 Those who have symptoms of allergy to laboratory
                    animals, must undergo further investigation through the
                    OHS to determine the control measures that must be
                    implemented to prevent progression or deterioration of
3.3                 occupational disease.

Guidance            25 For those who have symptoms of allergy to laboratory
                    animals the Head of Department should:
                     • ensure appropriate PPE is provided and worn correctly;
                     • ensure that the individual concerned changes his/her
                        working practices and or receives additional training in
                        order to reduce exposure to LAA and comply with OHS
                        recommendations;
                     • ensure attendance at the OHS as required by the
                        Occupational Physician.

                    26 Guidance on the measure necessary to prevent further
                    exposure will be given by OHS when an individual presents
3.3                 with allergic symptoms.




                            Page 7 of 13
                          UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                     Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens


4.0 Training and information
UCL - ACOP                  Training

                            27 All staff working with animals should be trained and
                            given sufficient information to carry out the work without risk
4.1                         to themselves or others who might be affected.

Guidance                    28 Training may take the form of:
                             • familiarisation with codes of practice, local rules,
                               operational procedures etc;
                             • an on-the-job demonstration working under supervision
4.1                            until competence is attained.

Guidance                    Information

                            29 Information given to staff should include an explanation
                            of the need for the above controls, the symptoms of allergy
                            and the importance of reporting symptoms to the OHS at an
4.2                         early stage.

5.0 Record keeping
UCL - ACOP                  Record Keeping

                            30 Records, written or electronically stored and relevant to
5.1                         the Department’s work with animals, should be kept.

Guidance                    31 Records should be kept by the following:
                             • Head of Department - details of staff given any special
                               duties with regard to work with animals;
                             • BSO - list of current Project Licence holders or Principal
                               Investigators, list of 'designated areas' within the
                               department, list of people on health screening;
                             • Departmental Safety Officer - List of laboratory codes of
                               practice and their locations, commissioning and
                               maintenance records of air handling systems used to
                               control exposure to LAA;
                             • Principal Investigators - List of current projects, risk
5.1                            assessments, own laboratory codes of practice.

6.0 Design and maintenance of laboratories

UCL - ACOP                  Design

                            32 Rooms in which the work will take place should be
                            designed so as to be easy to clean and the design should
                            include local exhaust ventilation where this is needed to
                            control the risk of exposure to LAA.

                            33 The design and layout of existing rooms should be
                            reviewed in the light of the assessment of risk of exposure
                            to LAA. A plan for improvement should be prepared if
6.1                         required.

                                    Page 8 of 13
                  UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
             Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens


Guidance            34 When specifying the design requirements for a new
                    designated laboratory for work with animals, considerations
                    similar to those for microbiological laboratories should be
                    applied. The floors and bench surfaces should be resistant
                    to acids, alkalis, solvents and detergents and be
                    impermeable to water. The construction should follow the
                    same requirements as those for containment level 2
                    laboratories.

                    35 Depending on the nature of the working procedures,
                    local exhaust ventilation (LEV) should be specified in the
                    design to prevent LAA from being released into and mixing
                    with the general room air noting the following:-
                      • risk arises from temporary holdings of animals and dry
                        procedures;
                      • overall room ventilation and window-mounted extraction
                        will not protect against exposure;
                      • the LEV need not be elaborate and in many cases
                        existing fume cupboards or Class II microbiological
                        safety cabinets ducting to the outside may be sufficient.
                      • recirculation units may be acceptable but these require
                        a careful maintenance procedure;
                      • animals in cages could be housed in a home-made
                        Perspex hood with ventilation trunking connected to a
                        window-mounted fan.

                    36 The room design and layout should avoid, as far as
                    possible, a large number of surfaces which will gather dust
                    so as to facilitate cleaning. Cupboards are preferable to
                    open shelves. It is recognised, however, that this will not
                    always be practicable.

                    37 Where the work will continue in existing premises, the
                    risk of exposure should be reviewed. Attention should be
                    paid to any characteristics of design and layout which may
                    contribute to exposure, such as unnecessary storage on
6.1                 open shelves and surfaces.

UCL - ACOP          Maintenance

                    38 A cleaning and maintenance schedule should be
                    devised and operated in the rooms in wh ich the work will
                    take place. The schedule should cover both the room itself
                    and any LEV installed and operated to control the release
6.2                 and spread of LAA.

Guidance            39 The content of such a schedule will depend on
                    individual circumstances. Wet wiping is preferable to dry
                    sweeping or vacuuming but this may not be possible
                    around electrical equipment.

                    40 Where filtered (re-circulation) LEV is used, the filters will
                    need to be changed at specified intervals in accordance
                    with the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on the
                    nature of the LEV and the manufacturer’s instructions this
                    may be carried out by laboratory staff working under a risk

                            Page 9 of 13
           UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
      Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens


             assessment for allergen exposure. Care should be taken in
             handling used filters to avoid the release of dust particles
             and a mask should be worn.

             41 Used filters should be packaged and disposed of via the
6.2          Hazardous Waste Service.




                     Page 10 of 13
                                 UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                            Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens




                                       APPENDIX 1
                                     Risk Assessment

Guidance

The risk assessment procedure is aimed at protecting individuals from becoming
sensitised to allergens originating from mammals (primarily) but the procedure also applies
to other species known to cause sensitisation, especially insects.

Under the COSHH Regulations, exposure to “substances harmful to health”, in this case
LAA, should be reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. In the case of
respiratory sensitisers it is not possible to predict which individuals will become sensitised
and at what level of exposure, since no link between quantity of exposure and risk of
sensitisation has been established. However, it is reasonable to aim for working
procedures which minimise the production, release and dissemination of allergen-bearing
fine particulate matter - and the numbers of people who will be exposed. Furthermore, as
required in the UCL Approved Code of Practice, such activities should be carried out as far
as possible in rooms designed and allocated for the purpose of housing such work.
Access should be restricted to essential personnel only.

Consequently, the risk assessment procedure is centred on specified rooms in which work
with animals will be conducted. It seeks to establish which procedures will be/are being
carried out, who will be entering the room and how long they will spend in the room. It
requires exposed individuals to be identified for the purpose of ensuring that they undergo
the level and type of health surveillance which is currently prescribed by law.

Accordingly, it is essential that the information in the completed forms is kept
confidential.

A downloadable copy of the risk assessment form is at
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/efd/safety_services_www/guidance/index.htm




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                                 UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                            Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens




                                 APPENDIX 2
                           Management Responsibility
Head of Department

The Head of Department is responsible to Council for ensuring that this UCL Approved Code
of Practice (UCL - ACOP) or its equivalent is followed as a means of ensuring that exposure
to laboratory animal allergens is controlled. If a Head of Department chooses a system other
than that set out in this UCL - ACOP they will be asked to demonstrate that it achieves the
same objectives.

The Head of Department is also responsible for ensuring that a list of those members of staff
who have been given special duties and responsibilities in the use of animals in the
department is maintained. This list includes the Designated Contact.


Principal Investigators

Principal Investigators are responsible to the Head of Department for the implementation of
this UCL - ACOP, or its equivalent, within the areas where they conduct their work. In
particular Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring that, before any work
commences, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is carried out and any identified
control measures implemented.


Designated Contact

The Designated Contact is responsible to the Head of Department for reporting the extent of
implementation of this UCL - ACOP within the Department and any problems encountered in
its implementation.

The Designated Contact should also maintain lists of the following:

• current Project Licence holders and/or Principal Investigators;
• Designated Areas within the Department where work with animals is permitted; and
• those undergoing health screening.


Departmental Safety Officer

The Departmental Safety Officer is responsible to the Head of Department for ensuring that a
list of Laboratory Codes of Practice and their locations and the commissioning and
maintenance records for any air handling systems used in conjunction with laboratory
animals are maintained.




                                           Page 12 of 13
                                        UCL APPROVED CODE OF PRACTICE
                                   Control of Exposure to Laboratory Animal Allergens




                                            APPENDIX 3
                                       Legislative Framework

The following legislative documents apply to work with animals and form the framework for
this UCL Approved Code of Practice (UCL - ACOP):

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

Note:
This UCL - ACOP does not take into account Home Office requirements under the Animals
(Scientific Procedures) Act 1984 but is not considered to conflict with duties placed on
employees under this Act.




Safety Services Reference(s):

                                                      R         B         G
 Approved Code of Practice      49-WP-23R1.doc       153       255       153
 Guidance                                            204       255       204
 Risk Assessment                 49-WP-24.doc




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