Report Animal Concerns

Four Key Reminders to Help Protect Against Animal Bites and Scratches

Facilities Safety

Female animal technician in scrubs sitting at computer desk looking at computer screen with EHS Reporting a Lab Incident Form

All animals โ€“ no matter the size โ€“ are capable of inflicting bites and scratches.

Although the bites and scratches delivered by small animals, such as laboratory rodents and rabbits, usually result in only minor wounds, bites inflicted by larger animals may result in more serious tissue damage and could even lead to infection.

Personnel who handle animals in the conduct of their research activities should review these four key reminders to ensure that proper procedures are being used to help prevent, protect, and report animal bites and scratches:

  • Any individual who picks up an animal must be trained in proper handling techniques, including general restraint techniques. The ULAM Training Core provides this required, hands-on training for rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits.
    • Requisite training for all other species should be provided by the laboratory in advance of personnel handling any new animals.
  • All staff should also be familiar with the appropriate first aid procedures specific to each species being handled and/or restrained.
  • For additional training and resources, contact the ULAM Training Core at ulam-trainingcore@umich.edu or (734) 763-8039. 
  • Minimum Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements for working with different animal species can be found in the Animal Handler PPE Chart on the Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) website.
  • Standard latex or nitrile gloves will provide some protection against bites and scratches.
    • For some species, protective gloves may be needed to protect against bites and scratches.
    • Gloves made from materials resistant to punctures, such as Kevlar or stainless-steel mesh, can be worn over impermeable gloves or under other protective gloves to reduce bite punctures.
  • Refer to all posted signage in the animal facility for specific room entry instructions and appropriate donning/doffing of required PPE.
  • Inappropriate handling may cause discomfort, pain, or distress to the animal, which could endanger animal welfare and result in bite or scratch injuries to the animal handler.
  • To request supplemental training on the proper methods of handling or restraint for a variety of animal species, please complete the ULAM Training Request Form. Training can be requested on an individual basis or for your entire laboratory.
  • Questions about proper animal handling and restraint techniques for a specific species may also be directed to your ULAM Faculty Veterinarian.
  • Report all work-related injuries and illnesses โ€“ including animal bites โ€“ to the Work Connections Office within 24 hours by completing the Illness or Injury Report Form.
  • In the event of an animal bite or scratch during research-related activities, follow the procedures outlined in the First Aid Protocols document on the EHS website.
  • Fill out the Laboratory Incident and Near Miss Report Form for all animal research-related incidents, even if medical attention is not sought. The information you provide is critical for developing additional safety training and guidance to help prevent future incidents from occurring.
First aid kit icon with blue question mark bubble

Questions?

Questions about work-related injuries or reporting a laboratory safety incident should be directed to the department of Environment, Health & Safety at EHS-AnimalSafety@umich.edu.

To learn more about the myriad resources available to manage occupational health and safety risks when working around animals, please visit the EHS Animal Safety website.

Thank you for doing your part to ensure safety first, safety every day at the University of Michigan!

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