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Health and Safety Directorate

Sensitisers – Laboratory animals

Work with laboratory animals requires protective measures and health surveillance for an individual due to potential contact with respiratory and skin sensitising materials.

Laboratory animal allergy (LAA) is an allergic hypersensitivity response which may develop because of exposure to animal allergens. The main, but not the only, sources of animal allergens are urine, fur, hair, dander, saliva, droppings, and serum. The symptoms are typically rhinitis (runny or stuffy nose), conjunctivitis (watery or prickly eyes) and skin rashes and in some cases, serious symptoms of asthma.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations require employers to prevent or, if this is not reasonably practicable and risk is tolerable, adequately control exposure of employees to hazardous substances, including animal allergens. This should be achieved by assessing the risk, providing suitable control measures, and health and environmental monitoring to ensure that the control measures remain effective and are correctly used.

Control measures may include safe working practices, room ventilation systems, local exhaust ventilation (LEV), personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Information, instruction, and training should also be provided to those working in laboratory animal facilities.

Queen Mary mandatory requirements when working with laboratory animals

Before any work with laboratory animals is carried out, Queen Mary staff, PGR students and academic visitors should:

  1. Complete the individual health assessment form provided by OH Works Ltd within the OH Works Orchid dashboardor complete and return by email to OH Works Ltd (
  2. Complete a task risk assessment that covers your individual work activities with laboratory animals (see Queen Mary documents below).

Note – additional topic risk assessment/s may also need to be completed as appropriate (e.g., biosafety risk assessment, GMO risk assessment, manual handling risk assessment).

  1. If identified by the task risk assessment and/or individual health assessment, be face fit-tested for tight-fitting respiratory protective equipment (contact OH Works Ltd)or obtain suitable loose fitting respiratory protective equipment (line manager responsibility).
  2. Complete your facility induction (including health & safety requirements) with the Biological Services Unit or Facility Manager.

Contractors / others accessing ‘live’ laboratory animal facilities under the responsible person’s authorisation should provide their own health clearance and task risk assessment to their Queen Mary host and ensure they have applicable personal protective and respiratory protective equipment for their work.

Queen Mary documents:

Laboratory animal allergens – individual workplace risk assessment template

Laboratory animals - health & safety procedures and guidance

Health surveillance and monitoring policy and Health Surveillance Topic Page

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