Veterinary Safety & Health: Physical Safety
- Improved livestock handling facility design and restraining facilities can decrease injuries in animals and workers.
- Most bite, scratch, kick, and crush injuries from animals can be prevented by using appropriate restraint and following established procedures.
- Significant injuries and medical emergencies may result if proper procedures are not followed or precautions are not taken.
- Bite and scratch wounds should receive immediate medical evaluation and care due to risks of infection and rabies exposure.
- Strains, sprains, back injuries and other repetitive motion injuries may occur when lifting, restraining, and treating animals
- Extensive computer use may have ergonomic risks
Eye safety concerns include:
- Penetration wounds from animals, tools, and equipment
- Contamination with dust or other airborne contaminants
Risk of exposure during radiography increases with the:
- physical restraint of animals
- use of older or poorly maintained equipment
- inadequate use of protective garments
Commuting between farms, facilities, and/or patients increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents.
- AVMA recommends voluntary compliance with the OSHA bloodborne diseases standard (see NASPHV Veterinary Standard Precautions Compendium)
- Sharps injuries may result in lacerations or other traumatic injuries
- Injury from contaminated sharps may result in illness or death (see biological and chemical hazards)
Sources of noise above recommended levels in veterinary workplaces may include:
- Barking dogs in kennels and other confined spaces
- Swine when being handled
- Loud machinery and equipment
NIOSH Health hazard evaluation (HHE) report: HETA-2007-0068-3042, Noise exposures and hearing loss assessments among animal shelter workers, Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Algiers, Louisiana [PDF – 931 KB]
- Many types of organic and inorganic dust and other airborne contaminants are present in confined animals feeding operations and other animal facilities.
- Dust is generated from feed, bedding, manure, and many other sources.
- Dust can be an irritant or an allergen.
- Chloramine compounds generated in settings such as poultry plants from interactions between chlorinated water and nitrogenous materials are respiratory irritants.
- Cleaners and disinfectants similar to those used in veterinary settings have been associated with asthma in a variety of settings, including human healthcare (see Chemical Safety section).
NIOSH Request for Assistance in Preventing Organic Toxic Dust Syndrome
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-102 (1994)
North Carolina Swine Veterinary Group: Occupational Hazards on Swine Farms
King BS, Page EH, Mueller CA, Dollberg DD, Gomez KE, Warren AM . Eye and respiratory symptoms in poultry processing workers exposed to chlorine by-products
Am J Ind Med 49(2):119-26
Arif AA, Delclos GL . Association between cleaning-related chemicals and work-related asthma and asthma symptoms among healthcare professionals
Occup Environ Med 69(1):35-40
Farms, animal facilities, and veterinary facilities may have slippery or uneven surfaces which put workers at risk of injury from slipping, tripping, or falling.
NIOSH Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention for Healthcare Workers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-123 (2010)