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WTAMU Research: Occupational Health Program FAQ

Occupational Health Program FAQ

Q: What is the Occupational Health Program (OHP)? A. The Occupational Health Program is a service for individuals exposed to hazardous materials or operations 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.

Q: Who should enroll in the OHP? A. Any person listed on an IBC research permit working with agents at BL2 or BL3; or listed on an IACUC research or teaching animal use protocols (AUPs);
Any person who has been identified, in a OHP 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.
Any person employed by West Texas A&M University in an operations position for the following departments:

Q: How do I enroll in the OHP? A. There are two paths: research personnel and operations personnel. Follow the instructions listed on the respective web page for each group.


Occasionally a person may need a dual enrollment in OHP. For example, personnel who are employed as operations personnel for West Texas A&M University and are 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 OHP Risk 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 OHP? A. Yes. Student workers meet the definition of employee by receiving financial compensation.  Graduate students who receive stipends are considered employees. Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Program for further information at 806.651.2740 or ar-ehs@wtamu.edu.

Students who are NOT employees and ARE enrolled can be enrolled by their principal investigator or professor, however any costs pertaining to OHP will be covered at the student's expense.  Unpaid (volunteer) students can also be enrolled, however any costs pertaining to OHP will be covered at the student's expense. Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Program for further information at 806.651.2740 or ar-ehs@wtamu.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 OHP, the medical review is included in the risk assessment and enrollment form and has 15 questions, 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 a risk assessment 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 portion of the enrollment form.

Q: How do I receive medical services? A. To receive services, complete the OHP enrollment form, and select "accept participation" and sign that section. Once Academic Research Environmental Health and Safety receives your risk assessment and enrollment form, we will assess the risk mitigations and medical services you need, based on your risk assessment and send you a medical surveillance authorization form to indicate which services you should receive. Medical services are provided at various locations in Amarillo and Canyon, Texas. Detailed instructions will accompany your authorization form. Take that authorization with you to a contracted provider to confirm which services you need. Without the West Texas A&M University authorization form, you will be denied medical services through the 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 West Texas A&M University 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 OHP testing is paid for by West Texas A & M University, as long as the employee is  receiving financial compensation from WTAMU.   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: 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 Environmental Health and Safety Program 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 OHP? A. On the risk assessment and enrollment form, the employee marks and signs the section which says "I decline participation" in the medical services portion of the program.

An employee may decline medical/health surveillance activities. Declining medical/health surveillance participation gives you access to educational materials, training, personal protective equipment, and other support services aimed at preventing occupational injuries and exposures; however; no medical surveillance will be offered. In certain cases, if you decline to participate, you may be denied access to certain facilities or prohibited from certain activities, such as in the case of BSL 2 (or higher) laboratories.