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Issue: 43 - Jul 16, 2012
Summertime OSHA Tidbits
By: Chery F. Kendrick, DVM, MPVM, MLT, ASCP, CFS
Kendrick Technical Services, LLC
‘Summertime and the livin’ is easy’ certainly doesn’t apply to the typical veterinary clinic. Instead, we see increased activity, which brings additional stresses and potential hazards.
The types of seasonal changes that occur at the clinic bring about several key areas to look at in terms of OSHA training and preparation.
Those areas of concern that OSHA specifically wants us to consider include the following categories:
People, which means an increase in clients as well as seasonal employees. With summer we have a spike in patient loads, which brings additional people through the doors. Some of these clients are seasonal ones because they visit our area on holiday or because they personally come ‘out of hibernation’ and think of taking their pets to the vet only when the warm weather returns.
Additionally, we may have seasonal employees such as vet students returning home and hoping to get some practical experience or high school youngsters looking for a job while they explore career options.
Be sure to update your OSHA training to include seasonal hazards.
Make sure you go over the OSHA training with your seasonal employees just as you would any regular employee. Taking the time to reinforce some safety items will pay huge dividends down the road in injury prevention and protection from lawsuits if that seasonal employee does get hurt.
Animals, which means an increase in patient load with all the potential hazards associated with that influx. We see more patients with warm weather. We also see a lot more boarders as families travel on vacation. Increased patient loads, especially increased boarders, can indeed cause increased stress and potential hazards.
Zoonotic Diseases, which are always a concern and even more so in the summer.  Tick-borne illnesses affect not only our patients but may also present a zoonotic threat to our staff. As we educate our clients, so, too, do we need to remember to be checking ourselves for those pesky and dangerous travelers (ticks). This would also be a good time to remind your staff of safe tick removal for both animals and humans and the idea of keeping the ticks in a container of alcohol for later identification/classification.
At this time of year tick-borne diseases are not the only zoonosis we need to be concerned with. Leptospirosis is another seasonal zoonotic in certain areas of the country to be aware of in warm months.  In areas where you see Leptospirosis be sure to remind your staff to wear gloves, especially when processing urine specimens.
Bites, which are always a danger and more animal interaction means more chances for nipping. It is always important to stress bite safety, however, summer seems to bring about the more testy biters so it’s a good time to refresh the staff’s training.
Warm Weather, which we welcome. We look forward to those sunny days but be sure to stress hydration and protection from direct sun, especially if out on farm calls or working outside in the clinic yard or at vaccination and spay/neuter clinics, which always seem to start with registration outside in a parking lot! Heat stress is a serious illness that can affect our large animal vets and their teams so be sure to carry plenty of water, cover your heads while out in the sun and watch your electrolytes when working out of doors. Take a lesson from athletes and keep some sports drinks or gels around to help with hydration.
Heat stress related-incidents are big on OSHA’s list for employee safety.
Storms and Your EAP, which can be fascinating for weather watchers but scary for clinics. Summer storms can bring tornadoes, floods and hurricanes to name a few calamities, so be sure to have your Emergency Action Plan in place to cover these potential possibilities.
By taking a look at each of these categories we can prevent potential summertime hazards from becoming summertime disasters and enjoy the increase activity and challenge that summertime brings to our clinic.
Happy Summer All!
Chery F. Kendrick, DVM, MPVM, MLT, CFS is a writer, educator, speaker and consultant. She is the nation’s leading veterinary regulatory control and OSHA expert. Her time spent in Washington D.C. as an advocate for the veterinary profession with OSHA and other regulatory agencies has resulted in many positive compliance changes for our industry. Her manuals and training programs are used by clinics and animal care facilities nationwide. She speaks at association meetings and conferences nationwide. Her well attended workshops are constantly praised as powerful resources for practice managers, veterinarians and their staffs.
Please feel free to contact her at with your questions and visit her web site at
For information on Dr. Kendrick’s workshops and workbooks contact her at Kendrick Veterinary Consulting Group, LLC 865-405-4255 or