Veterinary technology programs and their parent institutions must establish policies and procedures that ensure a safe and healthy environment for students, instructors, personnel, and animals involved in the educational program.
Student acquisition of safety-related knowledge and skills is an important part of the educational process. The ability to apply these safety-related skills will increase the value of graduate veterinary technicians to the veterinary profession.
It is recognized that compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations can be subject to variances in interpretation and application. Further, state and/or municipal safety regulations may supersede OSHA regulations. Nevertheless, all programs must comply with all applicable safety standards and monitor and maintain safety. Student understanding of basic OSHA concepts must be instilled through the curriculum.
Programs will be evaluated for attention to safety issues in general, with particular emphasis on specific subjects covered under Standards 4 (Physical Facilities and Equipment), 5 (Resources for Clinical Instruction), 8 (Students), and 10 (Curriculum). (see Use of Animals in Veterinary Technology Teaching Programs Appendix)
The following are general safety concerns that CVTEA will review during site visits:
Animal Handling – Because species can inflict personal injury if improperly handled or restrained, understanding and application of proper animal handling procedures must be included in veterinary technology education. In addition, the safety of animals used in program instruction must be considered for all handling procedures. (see Use of Animals in Veterinary Technology Teaching Programs Appendix)
Occupational Safety and Health – While recognizing that health and safety hazards are inherent in veterinary technology education, programs must demonstrate vigilance in taking steps to reduce these risks. All areas in which program student learning takes place must be in compliance with OSHA regulations. In some instances, the CVTEA expectations may expand on OSHA requirements to cover areas not specifically addressed in OSHA regulations. Areas of concern to the CVTEA include, but are not limited to: compressed gas cylinder placement and storage; eye wash (fixed or portable), safety shower, and drench hose availability; radiation equipment, logs, use of dosimetry badges, and exposure records; availability of containers for sharps; secondary labeling of repackaged materials; use of personal protective equipment; anesthetic machine maintenance with vaporizer validation and recalibration if indicated; waste anesthetic gases handling; presence of Safety Data Sheets (SDS); program student pregnancy and rabies and/or other zoonotic disease prevention/vaccination policies; formaldehyde standards; noise; refrigerator contents; safety signage; and imperviousness of surfaces in laboratories, including seat covers, in which potential pathogens and/or hazardous material are used.
Zoonoses – The potential risks of animals as a source of zoonotic exposure or disease transmission to humans must be taught, and program personnel must model behaviors that minimize such exposure.
Personal Safety – Students and program personnel must be protected from personal harm and injury due to inadequate security. Care must be taken to avoid placing individuals in risk situations as a part of educational activity, e.g., if students are responsible for handling or caring for animals, means must be in place to reasonably ensure student safety. A protocol must be in place for the handling or disposition of aggressive or dangerous animals (such as "faculty only to handle animal" signage or removal of the animal from the program). A process shall be in place to monitor student injuries/safety in all program-related activities including, but not limited to externships/preceptorships. Also, a protocol must be documented that describes the management of bites, scratches, and/or other injuries sustained by students during their educational experience.
Emergency Preparedness – A plan must be in place to address safety issues and animal care/evacuation in the event of any natural or other disaster.