Control Strategy

Allergy is costly to both employers and employees, and controlling the risks animal allergens pose is desirable from both a moral and economic perspective. In most jurisdictions, it is a legal duty. Unfortunately, as neither the vulnerable people can be identified with certainty in advance, nor the hazard (allergen exposure) completely eliminated under normal circumstances, there is inevitably residual risk to be managed.

Ideally, the risk posed by allergens should be considered in a comprehensive management system that addresses all the safety, health, and environmental risks in the animal facility. The components of this management system should include setting policy, establishing an appropriate organization, making and implementing plans, and measuring and reviewing performance. An effective system will be dependent on the leadership and commitment of senior management and the cooperative involvement of people at all levels of the organization.

A control strategy should be introduced prior to the construction of the animal facility so that it can be implemented in the design and influence key purchasing decisions. In many cases, this is not possible, as the facility is already established, however, the strategy should still influence future refurbishment decisions. The control strategy should be dynamic and responsive to changes in technology and understanding. Even when the initial design has been strongly influenced by the allergen-control strategy, as this evolves, there may be implications for the facility.

The principal mechanism by which allergen initiates LAA is assumed to be inhalation. Control measures should be mainly, but not exclusively, aimed at the control of aeroallergen in the worker's breathing zone. Ambient levels of allergen may not be representative of personal exposure. In a microscopy room, for example, ambient levels of allergen could be low, but, because the microscopist works with a source of allergen close to the breathing zone, personal exposure may be significantly greater. Controls should reduce both the intensity and the duration of exposure. Several studies have described the intensity of exposure associated with different tasks.15, 57-59 Directly handling animals (especially during close-up, detailed work) and cleaning and changing dirty cages are associated with exposure to high concentrations, whereas work on animal tissues postmortem is associated with lower exposures (see Table 7.1).

Table 7.1. The Likelihood of Exposure in the Absence of Specific Control Measures15-58-59

Exposure Task

Table 7.1. The Likelihood of Exposure in the Absence of Specific Control Measures15-58-59

Exposure Task

Low

Postmortem and surgery

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