Our Unit of Comparative Medicine (AKM) shall be a safe workplace for staff, researchers and students. This is achieved through systematic and continuous focus on HES, by using written procedures and employing standard operating routines. However, in order to have a safe workplace everyone must contribute!
Those who will work at AKM will be exposed to health risks like allergens and chemicals. All methods and procedures have to be risk assessed before the work can start. As an employee or user of AKM you will have to follow many rules and requirements. It is important that all personnel are aware and competent in how to protect against any potential risk to health or the environment.
On this page you will find information and guidelines regarding Health, Environment and Safety at AKM.
For generell informasjon om HMS på UiT, se HMS-håndboken i HR-portalen her: Universitetet i Tromsø : HMS-håndbok
Uønskede hendelser og forhold som kan eller har ført til skade på mennesker, miljø eller materiell må meldes. Se mer informasjon her: Universitetet i Tromsø : HMS-avvik og personskader. Avdelingsleder på AKM skal også varsles.
Before you can start working at AKM
Health monitoring program for those who will work with laboratory animals
The Faculty of Health Science offers and recommends that all users that work with fur-bearing laboratory animals enrol in the health monitoring program. The health monitoring program is for all staff and students at UiT and is performed by the occupational health service centre HEMIS free of costs.
You find more information on the health monitoring program here.
According to Norwegian law all enterprises have to survey possible risks at the workplace. All activities performed by staff, users and research groups have to be assessed with regard to potential risks.
Before starting any new experiment the project leader will have to sign and deliver a risk identification form where all methods, substances and procedures that will be used should be described and characterized with regard to potential risks. This risk identification form can be found here.
A complete risk assessment will have to be performed if the risk identification shows that you will apply methods, procedures, substances, etc. that may pose a potential threat to human or animal health or to the environment (see below).
If the risk identification shows that potential health or environmental hazardous substances, methods or procedures will be used during the work at AKM, a dedicated and complete risk assessment will have to be performed and delivered to AKM. It is the project leader of the experiment that is responsible to make sure that such risk assessments are carried out. AKM demands to have a copy of the risk assessment before the experiment can start. It is also the project leader´s responsibility to ensure that all participants in the experiment (e.g. co-workers, students, cleaners, staff at AKM, etc.) are informed about the potential risks and that they all receive the necessary training and information regarding protective measures.
Institutional unitization agreement regarding HES
If you are a user from another institution than UiT, be aware that a unitization agreement (contract) regarding HES has to be signed between your institution and AKM before the experiment can start. You will find a template (only in Norwegian) for such a HES unitization agreement with AKM here.
Health risks at AKM
It is important to be aware of the potential risks related to work in a laboratory animal facility. Examples of potential health hazards when working at AKM are provided below.
Special information for pregnant and breastfeeding women
Certain methods and substances may be particular harmful for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. Examples include ionizing radiation, several chemicals and medical substances. The university has a specific work routine for pregnant and breastfeeding women that can be found here.
If pregnant or breast-feeding women have any questions or doubts, they should contact the Occupational Health Service (see here).
The allergen density is high in an animal facility. Working with laboratory animals is a well-known risk factor for the development of allergic diseases. Persons with allergies against animals or plants, as well as asthmatics, are not recommended to work at AKM.
In order to diminish the exposure to allergens the use of correct protective wear is highly important.
All staff and students that are working with fur-bearing laboratory animals at AKM shall be offered the chance to join the health monitoring program. For more information on this program, see here.
Chemicals and medical substances
In an animal facility many different detergents and disinfectants are used in addition to various medical substances and other chemicals. Chemicals and other potential harmful substances should be handled in such a way that no damages to health or the environment occur. All use of potential harmful substances has to be specifically risk assessed.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for all chemicals and medical drugs has to be registered in the database and also be available in print. Users of AKM are obliged to provide MSDS for all relevant chemicals that will be used in experiments at AKM.
Ionizing radiation and radioactivity
We are using different equipment and methods at AKM that can cause radiation. The use of such methods and/or equipment has to be specifically risk assessed in addition to that all rooms/laboratories that will be used for this kind of work have to be especially approved and marked.
Even healthy animals may transfer infections to humans, for instance through bites or scratches. Proper handling of animals, correct protective wear, and good hygiene are important measures to prevent infections from animals to humans.
All personnel working with experimental animals at UiT should be offered tetanus vaccination (see here). Employees and students at UiT can be vaccinated against tetanus at the Occupational Health Service free of costs. For more information regarding tetanus vaccination, see the recommendations provided by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health here.
Work with known pathogens (infectious disease experiments) has to be especially risk assessed and also needs approval from various authorities including the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. Please contact the Head of Unit at AKM if you are planning to perform such type of experiments.
It is not uncommon that various types of cells or other biological materials are implanted into animals during experiments. Such material may potentially pose an infection risk to animals and/or humans. Therefore all biological material/substances that will be applied to/used in animals will have to be microbiologicaly tested. Please contact the Head of Unit at AKM for more information regarding such testing.
The above mentioned examples of potential health risks at AKM does not constitute an exaustive list. There may be other methods, procedures or substances that may pose risks to health or the environment that have not been mentioned here. Therefore any new method or substances that are planned to be used at AKM has to be risk assessed prior to its implementation.