CDC and OSHA Release Guidance for Protecting Workers Against Exposure to Zika Virus
May 12, 2016 09:13 AM
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released interim guidance for protecting workers, including outdoor workers, health care and laboratory workers, and mosquito control workers, from exposure to the Zika virus.
“Employers should train workers about their risks of exposure to Zika virus through mosquito bites and direct contact with infectious blood and other body fluids and how to protect themselves,” the guidance states. “Employers should also provide information about Zika virus infection, including modes of transmission and possible links to birth defects, to workers who are pregnant or may become pregnant or whose sexual partners are or may become pregnant.”
Health care and laboratory workers should not only “follow good infection control and biosafety practices (including universal precautions) as appropriate,” but also use standard precautions “to expand the universal precautions required by the BBP standard by adding several protections (including expanded PPE) not covered by the BBP standard.”
Standard precautions include, but are not limited to, hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment (gloves, gowns, masks and eye protection) “to avoid direct contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials, including laboratory specimens/samples.”
Additionally, the guidance states that employers should ensure employees:
Follow workplace standard operating procedures (e.g., workplace exposure control plans) and use the engineering controls and work practices available in the workplace to prevent exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.
Do NOT bend, recap, or remove contaminated needles or other contaminated sharps.
Properly dispose of these items in closable, puncture-resistant, leakproof, and labeled or color-coded containers.
Use sharps with engineered sharps injury protection (SESIP) to avoid sharps-related injuries.
Report all needlesticks, lacerations, and other exposure incidents to supervisors as soon as possible.
The guidance is available here.