FAQ

If you do not find the answer to your question about the Biosafety Occupational Health Program, please contact us at 979.845.6649 or biosafety-occ-health@tamu.edu.

Q:  What is the Biosafety Occupational Health Program (BOHP)?

A. The Biosafety Occupational Health Program is a service for individuals exposed to hazardous materials in the course of their duties and in certain circumstances, in the course of their studies. It covers many areas, including education, preventative care, health monitoring, and occupational exposure evaluation and treatment.

Please note recent change: All researchers associated with the Texas A&M Health Science Center will now receive occupational health services by contacting the new Occupational Health Program (OHP) at OHP@tamhsc.edu.

Q: Who should enroll in the BOHP?

A. Any person listed on an IBC research permit working with agents at BL2 or BL3; or listed on a IACUC research or teaching animal use protocols (AUPs);

Any person who has been identified, in a BOHP exposure assessment, as having a potential exposure to 1) human body fluids, human tissues or wastes; or 2) animals, animal tissues or wastes; or 3) human disease-causing microorganisms.

Q:  How do I enroll in the BOHP?

A. There are several paths: research personnel, operations personnel, visitors/collaborators and students. Follow the instructions listed on the respective web page for each group.

Occasionally a person may need a dual enrollment in BOHP. For example, personnel who are employed as operations personnel for Texas A&M Institute of Genomic Medicine or the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are frequently approached by a principal investigator to be a participant in a research protocol, for some specific technical expertise. In this case, they need BOTH their operations activities documented and assessed with a BOHP Operations Personnel Assessment AND their research activities documented and assessed through verifying compliance with the protocols and/or permits on which they are listed.

Q: Should students enroll in the BOHP?

A. Yes. Student workers meet the definition of employee by receiving financial compensation.  Students who are NOT employees and ARE enrolled in a 485 level class can be enrolled by their principal investigator or professor. Graduate students who receive stipends are considered employees. Unpaid (volunteer) students can also be enrolled. Contact the BOHP Research Compliance Specialist for further information at 979.845.6649 or biosafety-occ-health@tamu.edu.

Q: What is a medical review form, and why do I need to fill one out?

A. If you have accepted participation in the medical services portion of the BOHP, the medical review form is a short (10 question) form which gives a starting point for determining vaccinations and documents any allergies or immune compromising conditions that may exist. The questions will apply directly to work duties documented in either an exposure assessment prepared for your position or the research protocol you are listed on. Since a person’s health does change over time, we request this form be completed at least annually. If you opt out of medical services, you do not need to fill out a medical review form.

Q: How do I receive medical services?

A. To receive services, complete the BOHP enrollment form for your work, and select "accept participation" and sign that section. Once the Office of Biosafety receives your enrollment form, we will assess the risk mitigations and medical services you need, based on your exposure assessment and send you a medical services authorization form to indicate which services you should receive. Medical services are provided at various locations throughout the state. Detailed instructions will accompany your authorization form. Take that authorization with you to your provider to confirm which services you need. Without the Texas A&M authorization form, you will be denied medical services through the Biosafety Occupational Health Program and you will be financially responsible for any testing that is performed.

Q: Will I get results from my medical test?

A. Test results within normal limits will be communicated to you in a private manner. Test results which fall outside the normal limits will be communicated directly to the Texas A&M biosafety officer. Further communication of those results, to the individual and to any other necessary person, will be in a timely manner and at the direction of the biosafety officer.

Q: Who pays for the test?

A. The BOHP testing is paid for by the participating Texas A&M institutions and agencies.

Q: What happens if I am enrolled in the OHP and I am injured on the job?

A. Report all on-the-job accidents and injuries, including emergency situations involving serious injury, exposure, or after-hours incidents, to your supervisor IMMEDIATELY. This step does not take the place of calling 911 (campus phones: 9-911) for emergency medical services for serious injuries or emergencies. It may be necessary to follow a specific procedure for control of infectious materials before emergency medical care can be given. Supervisors will also know the proper injury reporting procedure for the worker's compensation program. Adverse event forms should be filled out and returned to the BOHP research compliance specialist for all adverse events involving hazardous or potentially hazardous biological agents.

Q:  What if I don’t want to participate in the medical services portion of BOHP?

A. On the enrollment form, the employee marks and signs the section which says "I decline participation" in the medical services portion of the program.

An employee who declines participation can still receive information, personal protective equipment, and training, but as a consequence of declining participation, may be denied access to certain facilities or be prohibited from certain activities.