Visitor Info: Skaggs Bldg

VPR Letter Regarding Short-Term Visitors

January 3, 2022

To: Short-term visitors to Laboratory Animal Resources facilities

From: Scott Whittenburg, Institutional Official

RE: Occupational Health and Safety for Skaggs Building LAR facility

Welcome to the University of Montana and the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources. We hope that your short visit with us will be enjoyable and productive. As even a one-time visitor to our facility, you are entitled to information concerning the physical, chemical, mechanical, radiation, and disease hazards that you may encounter in our facility. You will also have the opportunity to participate in our occupational health and safety program. During your visit, we will appreciate having a record that you received this information when you sign in to visit or work in the facility.

Physical hazards

Caring for animals requires diligent daily cleaning of the facilities, including mopping. Slip hazards exist immediately after daily mopping in animal rooms as well as in the cage washing area, rooms 034 and 068 in the Skaggs Building (SB). The main corridor is mopped daily, Monday through Friday, between 3 and 5 p.m. Noise hazards may be encountered near large equipment such as the cage washer. Please feel free to ask for disposable hearing protection during your visit.

Chemical hazards

The chemicals that we use in large quantities are associated with the cage washer and are stored in the dirty cage washing area. There should be no reason for visitors to work with these chemicals. However, if you are splashed while visiting in this area, an emergency eyewash station is located in the dirty cage wash room. Peroxigard is used for cleaning floors, table tops, stainless steel surfaces, walls, and ceilings. The safety data sheets are located in the right-to-know compliance center in the main corridor just inside the facility entrance.

Isoflurane anesthesia is used in some rooms, including SB035 (procedure room) and SB028 (chemical hazard room). Doors are either marked clearly with a yellow hazard sign or allow only very limited access. Anesthetic gases are scavenged passively using charcoal canisters.

Some research projects in our facilities involve the exposure of animals to very low levels of hazardous substances such as asbestos and silica. The rooms housing animals involved in these projects are well-marked by a yellow sign on each door. Please do not attempt to handle any of these animals or their cages unless you have been trained by the principal investigator responsible for the project or his/her designee. 

Mechanical hazards

The primary mechanical hazards encountered in our facility involve heavy lifting of food, bedding, or equipment. As a visitor, you will not be asked to perform these tasks. 

Disease hazards

The most common hazard for persons working with or around laboratory animals is the development of allergies. If you know that you already have allergies, you are at a higher risk for developing sensitivity to laboratory animals, particularly rodents. The development of allergies is generally associated with long-term exposure to animals, for months to years, rather than a few days. This facility houses exclusively mice.

The mice housed in our facilities are screened for a variety of diseases before entry and are monitored daily for signs of illness. The chance of contracting a disease from them is extremely low when proper personal protective equipment such as gloves, lab coat, and eye protection (when indicated) are used.

Please feel free to ask any further questions you may have. We hope you have a safe visit to the University of Montana.

Office of The Vice President
Research and Creative Scholarship
University Hall 116
The University of Montana
Missoula, Montana 59812-4104
Phone: (406) 243-6670
Fax: (406) 243-6330