Occupational Hazards


Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs – Regulations and Information for Veterinary Practices in Washington

The 2011 Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 5594, requiring the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) to set requirements to protect workers who handle chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs. The bill required L&I to adopt rules that are consistent with and do not exceed provisions in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) 2004 Alert on preventing occupational exposures to antineoplastic and other hazardous drugs in health care settings, as updated in 2012.

L&I's hazardous drugs rule was adopted on January 3, 2012. Under this rule, if there is a reasonably anticipated occupational exposure to one or more hazardous drugs, then the employer must develop and implement a written hazardous drug control program to protect workers.

The rule takes effect in stages:

Jan. 1, 2014 — Employers must have completed and implemented a written hazardous drugs control program. 
July 1, 2014 — Employers must have implemented employee training.
Jan. 1, 2015 — Installation of appropriate ventilated cabinets must be completed.

A hazardous drug is any drug identified as hazardous by NIOSH in the "NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings 2012" and any other drugs identified by the employer that:

  • Can cause cancer.
  • Can cause birth defects or prevent reproduction.
  • Causes reproductive toxicity in humans.
  • Causes organ toxicity at low doses in humans or animals.
  • Can damage the DNA structure.
  • Mimics existing hazardous drugs in structure and toxicity.

New rule as adopted by the WA State Department of Labor & Industries

NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings 2012 – The complete list of hazardous drugs by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs for Veterinary Healthcare Workers – Information for veterinary practices on the safe handling of hazardous drugs

Washington State Hazardous Drug Regulations: How They May Impact Your Practice and Clinic – presentation at the WSVMA Annual Conference 2012 by Lisa Parshley, DVM, DACVIM

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Hazardous Drug Webpage – contains information on rule passage and links to resources

Questions and Answers about the new Hazardous Drug Rule – WA State Department of Labor & Industries

Subscribe to the LNI-HAZ-DRUGS-RULE-INFO List – Sign up with WA State Department of Labor & Industries to receive further information, sample programs and educational and outreach materials

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NIOSH Publications and Products


Hazard Communication Standard - NEW

The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has made changes to the Federal Hazard Communication Standard based on the International Global Harmonization System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Washington State must adopt these changes, and rulemaking is underway at the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) to do so. These changes are intended to improve comprehension of hazard information found on product labels. Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) will replace the current Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). The ultimate goal of these changes is to more effectively prevent injuries and illnesses and save lives.

Effective Dates:

  • June 1, 2014 Train employees on the safety data sheet (SDS) format and new label elements.
  • June 1, 2016 Update labels on "workplace" containers and train employees on newly identified hazards. Update the Hazard Communication Program, as needed.

Current hazard communication rules

Hazard Communication and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) – WA Dept of L&I

FAQs about the Global Harmonization System – WA Dept of L&I

SDS 101 – Reading and Using Safety Data Sheets - AVMA

Workplace Hazard Communications - Make Sure Your Practice is Compliant - AVMA


Veterinary Occupational Hazards

WA State Department of Labor & Industries – Veterinarians and their staff are exposed to an array of occupational hazards every day whether they work in private clinics, on farms or ranches, at food processing facilities, or in research labs. These hazards include physical hazards, ergonomics, chemical hazards and disease-causing pathogens. Visit the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries website for complete information on accident prevention programs, chemical hazards, bloodborne pathogens, and more.

Overview of Veterinary Hazards
Rules and Requirements
Training & Videos
Other Resources

General Resources from other agencies and organizations

Anesthetic Gases: Guidelines for Workplace Exposures – OSHA

Ergonomic Guidelines for Veterinary Practice – AVMA

Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel – Nat’l Assoc. for State Public Health Veterinarians

Lasers in Health Care Facilities – Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Search and Rescue Operations - OSHA


Occupational Phosphine Poisoning

Occupational Phosphine Gas Poisoning at Veterinary Hospitals from Dogs that Ingested Zinc Phosphide — Michigan, Iowa, and Washington, 2006–2011 – Report from the CDC

DVM360: Toxicology Brief: A case of zinc phosphide toxicosis

Medical Management Guidelines for Phosphine

USAEPA: Phosphine Hazard Summary

AVMA: Phosphine product precautions

AVMA: Phosphine gas can sicken veterinarians, clinic staff

Exposure to zinc phosphide sickens Washington technician – What you should know – WSVMA E-Newsletter Sparks, April 2011


Pregnancy in Veterinary Medicine

AVMA Position on Veterinary Facility Occupational Risks for Pregnant Workers

Pregnancy and the Veterinary Profession, Aimee M. Dalrymple, DVM. Massachusetts VMA article

Pregnancy in the Veterinary Workforce - What You Should Know About Occupational Hazards, Debora Wallingford, DVM. Washington VMA article


Security and Violence Prevention

Solutions for the veterinary profession – SafetyVet


Emergency Planning Resources for Veterinary Practices and Disaster Preparedness

Complete Resources from the AVMA – includes Risk Assessment, Creating an Emergency Plan and Safety Programs



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