NIOSH offers drug-exposure prevention tips for veterinary workers

June 17, 2010

A recently released NIOSH document (.pdf file) for veterinary health care workers outlines risks and recommendations for handling hazardous drugs.

NIOSH estimates that 500,000 veterinary health care workers, including veterinarians, technicians, and cleaning and maintenance staff, are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs during tasks such as handling drug vials; administering or disposing of drugs; and cleaning up spills, cages or animal waste. Exposure likely occurs through skin absorption, inhalation or ingestion, the agency said.

Safety recommendations include:

  • Train workers to recognize and understand the risks of working with hazardous drugs and in an environment where these drugs are handled.
  • Prohibit eating, drinking, chewing gum, applying cosmetics, or storing food or drinks within the hazardous drug preparation area.
  • Wear personal protective equipment during waste cleanup and disposal procedures, and do not wear work footwear outside the facility.