OBJECTIVE To identify the scope of occupational hazards encountered by veterinary personnel and compare hazard exposures between veterinarians and technicians working in small and large animal practices.
DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.
POPULATION Licensed veterinarians and veterinary staff in Minnesota.
PROCEDURES A survey of Minnesota veterinary personnel was conducted between February 1 and December 1, 2012. Adult veterinary personnel working in clinical practice for > 12 months were eligible to participate. Information was collected on various workplace hazards as well as on workplace safety culture.
RESULTS 831 eligible people responded, representing approximately 10% of Minnesota veterinary personnel. A greater proportion of veterinarians (93%; 368/394) reported having received preexposure rabies vaccinations than did veterinary technicians (54%; 198/365). During their career, 226 (27%) respondents had acquired at least 1 zoonotic infection and 636 (77%) had been injured by a needle or other sharps. Recapping of needles was reported by 87% of respondents; the most common reason reported by veterinarians (41%; 142/345) and veterinary technicians (71%; 238/333) was being trained to do so at school or work. Recent feelings of depression were reported by 204 (25%) respondents. A greater proportion of technicians (42%; 155/365) than veterinarians (21%; 81/394) indicated working in an environment in which employees experienced some form of workplace abuse.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Veterinary personnel in Minnesota were exposed to several work-related hazards. Practice staff should assess workplace hazards, implement controls, and incorporate instruction on occupational health into employee training.