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Animals in the workplace

Last updated October 2023

This chapter explains how health and safety legislation applies to animals in the workplace, and helps you identify potential hazards in working with animals.

When might animals be present in the workplace?

Animals might be in a workplace for many reasons. This could be regularly or on only single occasions, e.g. if a worker brings their pet dog to the workplace. Examples of workplaces where animals may be present on a regular basis include:

  • workplaces involved in animal care or sale, e.g. zoos, veterinary clinics, pet stores and dog-grooming businesses;
  • agricultural workplaces, e.g. farms with cattle, poultry or sheep;
  • businesses within the breeding or racing industry, e.g. horse or greyhound racing;
  • laboratories (where animals such as mice, rats, spiders and reptiles may be present); and
  • off-site work premises, e.g. homes of social work clients with pets.

Commonly, animals in the workplace are limited to horses, cattle, sheep and dogs, except in workplaces such as farms, zoos or veterinary practices, in which there can be a larger variety of animals.

Health and safety risks of animals in the workplace

If your workplace has animals present – whether on a regular or irregular basis – you must take reasonably practicable steps to prevent the risk of harm from those animals.