Years ago, within the R&D division, a program was implemented to prevent laboratory animal allergy. Yet, health problems continued to be reported to the Company Health Service. These problems, which were shown to be related to exposure to laboratory animal allergens, ranged from runny nose, irritated eyes and skin reactions to severe respiratory disorders.
During a three-yearly inspection carried out by the AAALAC (Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International), recommendations were formulated to optimize the program for the prevention of laboratory animal allergy. A number of indicators showed that the exposure to laboratory animal allergens in employees working in Research & Development was not yet completely under control. As a result, a multidisciplinary team was composed including representation from the research departments and from various disciplines within the Prevention Service.
A data collection plan was finalized. The results of the measurements made were communicated in reports and consultation meetings with management and the employees. A number of work posts were technically adapted for those activities where high exposure was measured.
In addition, each department assessed to what extent additional personal protection equipment was required for each activity. All of the teachable moments from this investigation have been compiled in an adapted procedure entitled "Preventing laboratory animal allergy". This procedure has since been translated into a revised refresher training course for employees and contractors.
Colleagues from other research centers within the company have been informed of the teachable moments and have started their own, similar programs. The findings were also communicated externally during conferences and meetings with other pharmaceutical companies and professional organizations.