There are many field operations or situations that have the potential to expose researchers to infectious substances. The University of California at Santa Barbara has an Occupational Health & Safety Program (OHSP) to identify and assess biological hazards for field research. The OHSP is important even under circumstances in which Principal Investigators are not required to document safety controls in a biological use authorization approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), nor to identify human health hazards in an animal use protocol approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
Examples of Potentially Infectious Field Procedures That Are Not Subject to Committee Oversight
***Access the EH&S Field Safety webpage here***
Biological Specimens and Exposure Control
The IACUC may require that the Principal Investigator consult with an Occupational Health Physician for a risk assessment in cases in which an approved protocol is not required, but there is a risk of exposure to zoonoses. UCSB contracts with Sansum Occupational Medicine for review of research-related health risk assessments and recommendations. If the research will be conducted in rural areas abroad, the physician may suggest that the participant consult a travel physician. For more information, contact the IACUC Coordinator at (805) 893-5855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) recommends a creating a written exposure control plan to document the controls that will be used to mitigate or prevent exposures to pathogens that may be encountered. The exposure control plan should cover controls for specimen collection, containment and transportation, transfer and storage, and waste disposal. For additional guidance on developing an exposure control plan, contact the Campus Biosafety Officer at campus extension (805) 893-8894.
UCSB offers a diverse array of field studies programs and research projects in locations all over the world. The Principal Investigator or Program Coordinator leading the trip should be an authority on specific information about the types of physical hazards one may encounter, as well as the ways to prevent injury or harm. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) has developed a Field Safety Program which provides field safety training, assistance with field trips planning, equipment selection and procurement. EH&S has a variety of equipment it can loan on a limited basis (satellite communication units, monitoring equipment, etc.). For more information, visit the Field Safety Website or contact the Field Safety Program at campus extension (805) 893-5129 or e-mail at email@example.com.