Lessons Learned from Winter 2021 Semi-Annual Facility Inspections

August 9, 2021

Graph showing common deficiency areas identified during Winter 2021 semi-annual facility inspectionsAs the Fall 2021 semester quickly approaches and we welcome additional colleagues back into the lab, it is important to remember that every individual involved with animal care and use at the University of Michigan has an active role to play in ensuring animal welfare and maintaining programmatic compliance.

We firmly believe that increased transparency and information sharing will result in a more well-informed research community that is better prepared to assume collective responsibility for the humane treatment and judicious use of animals in research.

To help build a greater understanding of programmatic trends and key areas of focus for the upcoming term, we are sharing findings from the last round of semi-annual Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) facility inspections conducted in Winter 2021.

These inspections are one of the most important tools we have for evaluating our Animal Care & Use Program as well as offering areas for individual and collective improvement(s) in service to the animals under our care.

As such, please review and discuss these findings, suggestions for improvement, and additional resources with all members of your staff, including any students involved with research in your lab.

Common Deficiency Areas** Identified During Winter 2021 Inspections:


  • Sharpening/maintenance records for shears and guillotines not available
  • Sanitation practices for all lab equipment that comes into direct contact with animals were not established and/or equipment was soiled


Suggestions for Improvement:


  • Eyewash stations not flushed monthly
  • Outdated or overfilled sharps containers
  • Compressed gas cylinders not properly stored or maintained


Suggestions for Improvement:


  • Expired materials/drugs found
  • Materials and substances not labeled
  • Improper storage of controlled substances


Suggestions for Improvement:


  • Unsanitizable items (e.g., cloth chairs, unsealed wood) being used
  • Labs found to be cluttered


Suggestions for Improvement:

  • Fabric chairs in any areas where biological agents or other hazardous materials/chemicals are handled must be covered with a non-porous material that can be easily sanitized
  • Review additional lab safety procedures in the EHS Chemical Hygiene Plan or consult with an EHS representative
  • Select one or two lab members to regularly review, and be responsible for, housekeeping items/tasks


  • Post-operative monitoring sheets not available or incomplete
  • Materials and substances not labeled
  • Expired materials/drugs found
  • Anesthesia machines not properly maintained


Suggestions for Improvement:


  • Humidity in animal rooms/housing locations inconsistent with acceptable ranges outlined in The Guide 


Suggestions for Improvement:

  • Work with your ULAM Husbandry Supervisor and/or Plant Operations staff to address any service or facility repairs in a timely manner

**Percentages above represent the number of overall deficient findings in a given area (e.g., Occupational Health & Safety – 27% denotes that,
of the total findings identified during Winter 2021 IACUC semi-annual facility inspections, 27% were related to occupational health and safety).

Additional Resources 

In addition to the resources highlighted under each Suggestions for Improvement section above, you may also find the following tools helpful for assessing compliance and adherence to all policies, procedures, and guidelines within your lab:

  Resource Description
  IACUC Self-Guided Evaluation of Animal Activities
& Protocol Content Form
An assessment form containing an easy-to-follow methodology for performing a self-guided evaluation of your protocol content, including the details of all animal activities
  IACUC Are You Inspection Ready? Checklist A self-evaluation tool to help your lab plan for an IACUC inspection. Updated regularly to highlight key focus areas
  Aquatics Facilities –
Are You Inspection Ready? Checklist
A self-evaluation tool to help plan for an IACUC inspection of aquatics facilities
  What You Should Know About Reporting
& Investigating Animal Welfare Concerns
Includes information about the many ways suspected incidents of noncompliance can be reported, how allegations and reports are assessed within the program, details about the investigation process, and more
  Quick Reference Sheet:
How to Run Training Reports in eRAM
A high-level description of how PIs and Lab Contacts can easily monitor IACUC training requirements for their lab personnel
  Quick Reference Sheet: Guidelines for
Rats & Mice Euthanasia Procedures
A high-level guide for performing CO2 euthanasia procedures in adult mice. Note: these guidelines may not include all steps used in special circumstances. Always follow the procedures outlined in your IACUC approved protocol
  Archived AAALAC Chats Not just for AAALAC preparation!
These short 30-minute sessions provide a quick overview and resources on specific topics of interest to the U-M research community. Topics include controlled substances, rat and mice euthanasia procedures, equipment cleaning and sanitization, surgical records, daily husbandry and management of aquatics facilities, lab safety, protocol management, and tumor burden monitoring in rodents

Don’t forget, we are here to serve as your partners and colleagues in conducting responsible research! Please reach out to us for guidance and assistance on how we can best support your research; we are here to help you and your team be successful.

  Unit/Individual For assistance with...

Research Compliance Associates
(general inquiries may also be sent to acuoffice@umich.edu)

Processing protocols/amendments, policy guidance, assistance with understanding federal rules/regulations
  Quality Assurance Specialists
(general inquiries may also be sent to
Inspection preparation, identifying/resolving protocol deviations, assistance with solving lab-specific problems
  ULAM Faculty Veterinarians
(or email ulam-vets@umich.edu for questions that
do NOT require immediate veterinary attention)
Animal-related research techniques, treatment questions, general consults, protocol preparation
  ULAM Husbandry Managers
Guidance and assistance with housing, facility, supply, and general procedure questions

Controlled Substances Monitors

Use of controlled substances in research, including those projects involving animals

Institutional Biosafety Committee

Research with potentially hazardous biologics, including but not limited to recombinant DNA and synthetic nucleic acid molecules


Environment, Health & Safety

Animal use and occupational health and safety


Failure to appropriately follow policies and procedures, even those that may seem relatively small or insignificant, puts individual and animal safety at risk and could lead to serious citations for individual PIs, labs/lab staff, and the entire institution.

Maintaining a safe and secure environment for our peers and the animals entrusted to our care not only requires our constant attention and diligence, but it is also what is expected of us, both individually and collectively, when afforded the privilege of working with animals in research. 


Questions or concerns about semi-annual IACUC facility inspections, or any of the items outlined above, should be directed to the Animal Care & Use Office at acuoffice@umich.edu or (734) 763-8028.