UCL Human Resources


Pause in routine spirometry testing for staff and students exposed to animals at work

Pause in routine spirometry testing for staff and students exposed to animals at work

Update 1 – 12th March 2020 

After taking clinical advice Workplace Health will pause routine health surveillance testing for staff and students who work with animals. This means we will stop spirometry testing but will continue to review completed questionnaires. 

Why have we made this decision? 

We think we can assist with the delay of the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) if we reduce the clinical test (spirometry) whilst the pandemic peaks. 

How long will the pause last? 

We are planning to update and review our decision on a two-weekly basis. We will resume normal service based on the government Covid-19 phase and PHE advice. We will work to ensure the pause in routine testing is as short as possible. 

What will happen during the pause? 

Please continue to submit forms normally and we will review these. We will issue a three month wavier regarding routine spirometry and this will mean you can work. This will be emailed to your manager. We will aim to review you sooner but we think this is a realistic timeline. 

How will I know if I am unwell and safe to work with animals during the pause? 

The symptoms of laboratory animal allergy include sneezing and runny nose, sore runny eyes, skin rashes, and a tight wheezy chest. Some of these symptoms can occur during work or after work if they persist it will be necessary to call NHS 111 or seek medical attention. It is rare that individuals have severe reactions to this type of work but nevertheless it is important you take care and seek medical help if you are symptomatic. 

During the pause if you find you are getting these symptoms tell your manager and stop working with animals immediately.  

Note: if you have previously had a reaction to animals or have a history of asthma then you will be at a higher risk of developing symptoms. 

How will I know if I have a reaction to animals or I have coronavirus (Covid 19) as the symptoms may be similar? 

Covid-19 normally presents with a raised temperature, dry cough and breathing difficulties. If you become unwell you should let your manager know and call NHS 111 for advice. This may mean you need to stop work and self-isolate. If you are advised to isolate, please notify WH by completing this form.

In both circumstances discussing with your manager and stopping work are advised. Advice from NHS 111 will assist you if you continue to be unwell. 

How will I know that my routine health test will be completed? 

Workplace Health will log all individuals affected by our pause in testing and we will ask you to resubmit a form or attend for testing once the pause has been completed as required. 

You can get further advice from these sources: