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Inspection FAQs

The IACUC is charged with ongoing review and oversight of the animal care and use program. One of the IACUC’s responsibilities is to conduct semiannual facility inspections and program reviews.

The Animal Welfare Regulations, the PHS Policy and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals all address periodic inspections of animal facilities and animal use areas.

The IACUC performs facility inspections at least once every 6 months.

The IACUC inspects animal facilities, study areas and satellite areas.

Animal Facilities include any and all buildings, rooms, areas, enclosures, or vehicles, including satellite facilities, used for animal confinement, transport, maintenance, breeding, or experiments inclusive of surgical manipulation

Study Area means any building, room, area, enclosure, or other containment outside of a core facility or centrally designated or managed area in which animals are housed for more than 12 hours.

Satellite Areas include any containment areas outside of a core facility or centrally designated or managed area in which animals are housed for more than 24 hours.

  • Enhance communication between the research team, animal care staff and the IACUC
  • Identify good performance
  • Educate through constructive interactions between animal care, research and IACUC team members
  • Prepare for other, outside visits from oversight bodies (e.g., USDA, AAALAC, OLAW)
  • Ensure ongoing humane care and use and programmatic compliance

All IACUC members are invited to participate in the inspection. There must be at least two committee members, and the IACUC may invite ad hoc consultants to assist with the inspection.

Yes; the IACUC semiannual inspection can be unannounced or announced. The UMD IACUC generally makes announced visits, and plans their schedule to meet your availability.

The IACUC may look at any aspect of the facilities and animal use areas that affects the animals and their well-being and use or impacts personnel safety. This includes (but is not limited to): 

  • Personnel training records
  • Laboratory notebooks
  • Controlled substances records
  • Animal medical records
  • Facility sanitation and repair
  • Room log sheets and other records (sanitation, temperature, humidity, etc.)
  • Animal housing
  • Animal condition
  • Feed, water, and bedding
  • Cage washing and storage
  • Surgery and surgical support (including waste gas management, gas cylinder storage, etc.
  • Procedure areas and laboratories
  • Storage and mechanical areas
  • PPE requirements and door signs
  • Hazard use and protective equipment (fume hoods, BSCs, bedding dump stations, etc.)
  • Waste management
  • Pest control
  • Equipment function and maintenance
  • Other animal care, research and maintenance practices and aspects of the facilities

The occupational health and safety program (OHSP) is an essential part of the overall Program of animal care and use. An effective OHSP requires coordination between the research, the animal care and use Program, the environmental health and safety program, occupational health services, and the administration. Although not directly responsible for managing the OHSP, the IACUC plays a role in overseeing all aspects of the Program of animal care and use, including OHSP. The IACUC may assess component of the OHSP during the inspection, including:

  • Hazard analysis and risk assessment
  • Exposure control and prevention strategies
  • Facilities, equipment and monitoring
  • Personnel training
  • Personal hygiene
  • Animal experimentation involving hazards
  • Personal protection
  • Medical evaluation and preventive medicine

The occupational health and safety program (OHSP) involves coordination between many different entities of the University. There may be some overlap between what is inspected or assessed during the lab visits or inspections. Multiple opportunities for observation help ensure that all aspects of the OHSP, including equipment maintenance and monitoring, are up to date.

Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) FAQs

The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs.

Quality science and proper animal care go hand in hand. The University of Maryland College Park is committed to the highest standards of animal care and use and to animal welfare in science and teaching. AAALAC International accreditation is important because it:

  • demonstrates our commitment to providing quality animal care and use to the scientific community and to the public
  • enhances confidence in the University’s animal-based research and teaching programs
  • helps eliminate variables in research
  • encourages performance-based oversight
  • enhances research funding opportunities

The following are a few of the numerous benefits of earning AAALAC International accreditation: • It represents quality. demonstrated commitment to quality and good science facilitates collaboration with research partners.

  • It promotes scientific validity. Reliable scientific results in animal-based research depend on superior animal care.
  • It provides assurance in a global marketplace. Our standards are harmonized.
  • It’s a recruiting tool. Potential employees seek high quality programs for their research.
  • It demonstrates accountability. Accreditation publicly conveys our institutional commitment to responsible care and use of animals in science and teaching.
  • It provides a confidential peer-review. A team of outside experts provides an in-depth, confidential, on-site evaluation of our animal care and use program
  • It stimulates continuous improvement. Earning and maintaining accreditation ensures that we stay aware of, and engaged in, current best practices in animal care and use.

AAALAC accreditation site visits are conducted every three years, usually in the same trimester of the year

During the AAALAC site visit, the visiting team of laboratory animal science and research professionals will conduct a program documentation review and tour our animal care and use facilities. You may expect the site visitors to ask you about your research, your animal care and use responsibilities, your specific protocol, animal care and use procedures, the Occupational Health and Safety program, training requirements, or any other relevant aspect of your work. See below for further details on the process. 

AAALAC International uses various standards to conduct our accreditation assessments:

  • The 8th Edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide);
  • The Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (Ag Guide);
  • Prevailing standards, statutes and government regulations related to animal care and use for our institution (e.g., Animal Welfare Regulations, PHS Policy).

During their site visit, the AAALAC team will perform a walk-through of our animal care and use facilities, including select research labs, to view our program at the working level. In preparation for this facility tour, please ensure that:

  • the physical environment is clean, tidy, and equipment is properly labeled;
  • all records are up to date, including training, animal care and emergency contact information;
  • research activities are consistent with approved protocols;
  • appropriate PPE is being used at all times; and
  • personnel understand the research, protocols, and SOPs associated with their role in the facility/lab.

Note that, while we expect all personnel to have a firm understanding of the work performed in their labs/facilities and any risks/hazards associated with that work, we also understand that not everyone will have knowledge of every aspect.

A perfectly acceptable answer to a question is: “I don’t know, but the person who does know is…”

Any institution using animals for research, teaching or testing is eligible to apply for AAALAC accreditation. There are currently more than 925 accredited programs in 40 countries. Organizations include:

  • universities
  • hospitals
  • government agencies
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • biotechnology companies
  • agricultural research programs
  • nonprofit organizations
  • other research institutions

The AAALAC accreditation process is a multi-step process that involves the University’s animal care and use team and the AAALAC site visit team

  1. The University prepares a comprehensive description (program description; PD) of all aspects of the animal care and use program at UMD.
  2. An interdisciplinary AAALAC team reviews the PD and supporting documents.
  3. The University and the AAALAC team determine the site visit dates and the University develops a site visit agenda.
  4. During the site visit, the AAALAC team conducts an in-brief, reviews the PD to obtain answers to any questions, conducts facility walk-throughs, reviews program documentation, and meets with the IACUC to perform a comprehensive assessment of our animal care and use program.
  5. After the walk-through, the site visitors meet in “executive session” to discuss their assessment, key observations and items they want to share with us right away.
  6. Following the executive session, the site visitors conduct an exit briefing. They share a list of items that are commendable, suggestions for improvement, and mandatory items for correction, as applicable. All interested members of the animal care and use and support team are invited to attend.
  7. The University may choose to submit a post-site visit communication to inform AAALAC how they have addressed some or all of the findings and recommendations of the site visitors.
  8. The final accreditation decision lies with the AAALAC Council on Accreditation. The final council decision may be Continued Full Accreditation; Conditional Accreditation; Deferred Accreditation; Probation; or to Revoke Accreditation. The University of Maryland College Park animal care and use program has been fully accredited since 2011.

The AAALAC Council on Accreditation meets three times a year to decide on the outcome of accreditation visits conducted during that trimester. The final council decision may be Continued Full Accreditation; Conditional Accreditation; Deferred Accreditation; Probation; or to Revoke Accreditation. The University of Maryland College Park animal care and use program has been fully accredited since 2011.

No, AAALAC is not a regulatory body and does not make regulations or set its own standards. Instead, AAALAC relies on Three Primary Standards along with other, widely accepted guidelines. Institutions must also meet all applicable local and national regulations. AAALAC does publish position statements that may serve as supplemental guidelines for situations described in them.

AAALAC International accreditation is a voluntary process. AAALAC offers the only international accreditation for animal care and use programs. The University of Maryland College Park has chosen to attain and maintain AAALAC accreditation as a way to communicate our commitment animal welfare and to excellence in animal care and use.

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