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Handling animals

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Small animals

No persons may handles an animal unless they have assured the Director of the Unit that they are capable of doing so in the proper way. People who are inexperienced must ask the help of an experienced handlers and they should receive full instruction in animals handling from a member of the staff at the earliest opportunity. If an animal gets out of its cage and is caught and returned, the escape must be reported to a member of staff.

Large animals

Because of their size, farm animals can be dangerous. It is essential that a person experienced enough and strong enough to deal with the animal always accompanies the inexperienced or less strong person. An individual, however experienced, must ensure that one other person is aware of his/her involvement with large animals. it is advisable that help is always within call and where necessary be present.

Inoculation of animals

Special cabinets, face shields and other protection may be considered necessary when inoculation hazardous materials into animals. 'Luer-lok' hypodermic needles are recommended because the needle cannot fly off when inoculation. Great care must be taken to ensure that the animal holder is never at risk during inoculations; the hands must be positioned so that if the syringe slips the needle cannot accidentally pierce their skin. It is essential that help be available when an accidental inoculation of a substance may be hazardous to humans. If an antidote is required ensure that provision for its availability has been made. The needles must be discarded into yellow Sharp boxes for subsequent burning by "Waste to Energy" who are the approved college incinerator operators. This company will collect the full boxes.

All the infected materials from inoculation sessions should be autoclaved before disposal.

Freunds Adjuvant: this substance is often used in procedures designed to raise antibodies. Special care should be taken not to inject oneself or somebody else accidentally. It is necessary to wear protective glasses or goggles while mixing as a splash in the eye can cause a severe reaction. If an eye splash happens wash the area with water or eye wash solution and seek medical advice.

Sampling from animals

Material taken from animals for laboratory examination must be transported in approved leak-proof containers. Post mortem examinations of animals must be done in a room that can be decontaminated. Carcasses and tissues for incineration must be put into "sulu bins" then the freezer.

As with handling of animals only persons who are competent in the handling and taking of samples from animals should do so. In 'once off' situations members of the units staff will normally take the samples otherwise researchers are required to have training in the technique of taking the sample they want.

Preventative inoculations and screening of staff i.e. Tetanus

All staff who handle animals or work on farms or in this field are strongly advised to be vaccinated against tetanus.


All staff or researchers who handle animals which may have tuberculosis must be Mantoux test positive and should be prepared to accept annual chest X-rays tests. Persons who are mantoux negative will be offered BCG vaccination against tuberculosis until they are Mantoux positive (i.e. protected).

The postmortem room

The hazard of contact infection in a post-mortem room is obvious, if splashes of blood and faeces are clearly visible. The hazard of aerosol infection is not as obvious but the post-mortem room is probably the area where most aerosols are created. Apart from infective hazards, accidents can also be caused by cutting instruments, slippery floors, fixatives, disinfectants and electricity.

Disposal of animal carcasses

Carcasses must be placed into the special carcass bin which is collected at the end of each day. Great care should be taken to ensure that scalpel blades, hypodermic needles and other sharp instruments are not disposed of with the animal carcass. These must be disposed of in the special containers that are provided in the post-mortem and minor procedures area. All animal carcasses must disposed of under strict control. It is normally necessary for them to be stored in a deep freezer prior to incineration.

Disposal of contaminated waste

All waste material must be disposed of in appropriate boxes. There are appropriate boxes for all material:

1. Yellow 'sharp boxes' for needle and syringes or blades etc

2. Gray cardboard boxes for non-contaminated glass

3. Black bags and storage in the freezer for all normal biological material (radioactive and biohazard material needs special arrangements).

Toxic chemical hazards

Solid material presenting a chemical hazard must be disposed of in an appropriate manner (consult the chemical safety officer and relevant literature etc). The college employ a contract firm to dispose of this toxic waste. No chemicals may be disposed of in the normal refuse system without prior consultation with the Chemical Safety officer.

Any package containing a toxic chemical must be labeled appropriately and stored in a safe place prior to disposal.

Radio nucleotides

No radioactive compounds may be brought into or used in the Unit without the approval of the 'Radiological Safety officer.' The safe use and disposal of all materials which may be contaminated throughout the course of the experiment will be discussed and determined at the development of the protocol. The same principle of 'Producer Responsibility' as applies to toxic waste applies to this type of waste.

Biological hazards

Solid material containing pathogenic micro-organisms must be sterilised by an appropriate method before being placed in the waste sack. Proteinaceious material (i.e. dried micro-organisms and other tissues) should be placed in a separate package and then sealed prior to being put into the waste sack. This to prevent dusting and potential allergic sensitisation of those workers engaged in the handling and subsequent sorting of the wastes.

'Sharps' hazards

Syringe, needles, scalpel blades, broken glassware, initially intact glassware and other sharp debris (i.e. Pasteur pipettes) must never be placed directly into a plastic sack. They should be put in an approved sharps box.

There is a system of 'Sharps Disposal' run by the Hazardous Material Facility who will collect full sharp boxes and replace them with empty boxes. Only the correct 'yellow boxes' will be accepted by this company, no other boxes should be used.

Syringes and needles exposed to radio nuclides should not be put in the normal sharp box, a special one should be designated for radio nucleotides and it should be marked accordingly. separate arrangements should be made for the disposal of these type of sharps.

Initially intact glassware must also be separately packaged in a special gray box before being consigned to the refuse disposal system. This instruction applies to glass test tubes just as much as it applies to larger items such as bottles, beakers, flasks etc.

Fabric maintenance

Always dampen floors a little before sweeping out to keep down the dust, but do not leave them wet and slippery.

Air extraction systems must be kept clean and the filters changed at the specified times. Some systems depend on the doors being kept closed for their efficiency, so do not prop doors open. The date of cleaning of filters should be recorded.

The drains in animal accommodation should be kept topped up with water to prevent air passing from room to room and also to prevent small animals from passing in or out via the drains. The grids over the drains must be kept clear to avoid flooding. When they are taken up for cleaning they should be treated as infective.

Fire alert: evacuation procedure in the Bio Resources unit

1. If the fire alarm rings you must evacuate the building at once; close doors behind you and no not use the lift.

2. If you are handling an animal at the time, return the animal to its cage and secure cage.

3. Ever reasonable effort must be made to return an animal to its cage, however, in an extreme situation where it is not possible to do this and there is any possibility that the animal may awaken while unattended, it must be killed. Ensure death and leave at once. Inform the Unit safety officer of the situation.
(If a fire drill has been called you may with permission of the safety officer in charge continue work).

4. If you are alone in the unit at the time of the alarm you must return the animal to its cage or kill it as necessary and evacuate the building at once.

If you discover a fire, activate the nearest fires switch, inform security and evacuate the building.

Last updated 25 June 2012 by