Worker Safety Tips In Your Animal Shelter

August 20, 2014

Six tips to keep your shelter a safe place to work
People who work at animal shelters care about animals and want to make sure they are healthy and safe. It is also important to to make the shelter a safe place for the humans who work and volunteer there. Below are six tips to help keep your shelter a safe place to work.

Always wash your hands
We learned about the importance of hand-washing in pre-school and those lessons still apply. Hand-washing is your first line of defense when fighting off disease. There are some animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Taking fifteen seconds to thoroughly wash your hands with disinfecting soap can help you to stay healthy.

Take care of your food
A shelter should have a clearly defined area for the storage and preparation of food. Animal cages should not be cleaned in or around the food preparation or storage areas. Also, food should not be kept in the same refrigerator as veterinary drugs or laboratory samples. Finally, it is a good practice to not eat in the areas where animals are housed or treated.

Treat your wounds
No one working at a shelter wants to be bit or scratched, but unfortunately it does sometimes happen. When it happens, make sure to seek proper medical attention and do not try to treat it on your own. You should also make sure to report any wounds or injuries to your management staff.

Keep your vaccinations up to date
Again, bites and scratches do sometimes happen. Animal shelter employees should receive a tetanus vaccination every ten years. Staff working with wild animals or even potentially at risk strays may also need to have a rabies vaccination.

Pay attention to OSHA regulations
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations give clear guidelines to ensure workplace safety. Some regulations, such as the proper use and storage of chemicals and placing signage when cleaning and mopping the floors, are particularly relevant in animal shelters. OSHA also has guidelines for proper disposal of medical waste such as syringes. You can review their guidelines on the OSHA website.

Always have a plan
No matter how much you do right, sometimes things just go wrong. Make sure you have a plan. Every employee should know who to contact and what to do in case of dangerous weather, fire, or other emergency situations.

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