WCVM – Veterinary Anatomy Lab Renewal

The WCVM Gross Anatomy Laboratory (room 1204) is crucial to the delivery of the WCVM’s DVM program and remained relatively unchanged from its original construction in the late 1960’s. This laboratory is used frequently every week for the first year anatomy course, which is an essential part of the College’s curriculum and is essential for American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accreditation. In addition, appropriate laboratory facilities that meet safety standards are essential to meet the AVMA accreditation facilities standard. The AVMA in the accreditation site visit report (2010, page 19) states “The College should continue to evaluate and implement plans to reduce formaldehyde levels in the anatomy lab.”  Laboratory technical staff has reported health and safety issues for the formalin exposures as well as ergonomic issues relating to the cadaver storage and freezers.

Safety standards and roles of the lab space have changed significantly in recent years. The provincially regulated formalin ceiling exposure rate has been reduced, requiring the College to take actions to reduce student and staff exposure to formalin. Potential solutions, such as clipping hair and washing of the body cavities, have not sufficiently reduced the formalin levels. Alternative fixative solutions have been tried; however, cadaver decomposition develops. The long-term solution necessitates the installation of downdraft tables and configuring appropriate venting. 

An Ergonomic Evaluation outlines the problems experienced by the technicians in the lab, particularly the difficulties handling large frozen specimens and also the handling of biological wastes. The current freezer is difficult to load and unload. The capacity of the space is reaching maximum levels as it is now much more difficult to obtain specimens as they are needed, so the College must take the specimens as they become available, requiring more frozen storage space. The lab is moving towards more plastinated specimens, and the vacuum pumps for the plastination assembly need to be moved to an appropriate location. Workplace Safety and Environmental Protection (WSEP) recommends a proper combined eyewash/shower installation to replace the current equipment. Storage space as a whole is in short supply, so any increase possible will be beneficial.

The proposed project includes the installation of 20 downdraft tables (room 1204) to reduce formalin levels within the lab. In addition, the project replaces current freezer (room 1202) with two freezer rooms (rooms 1201 and 1203); which required removal of the air conditioning unit from room 1201, removal of the degreaser and cupboards from room 1203, and relocation of the boiler to room 1208 (with exhaust gained from closing the huge exhaust in room 1203), and relocating janitor space to another location.

Room 1202 was repurposed as the euthanasia/embalming room with a new headgate installed for animal restraint. The tile floor in room 1204 would be assessed, and regrouted or resealed and the existing headgate removed. 

The project would also provide a hood/canopy over the large animal demonstration area (embalmed cow and horse demonstration labs). 

An overhead hoist at north door would be installed to improve animal waste tank handling.