Date: Dec 01, 2014
Keller and Heckman LLP’s workplace safety and pesticide practices prepared this alert to be a general information resource for employers concerning the recent outbreak of a particularly fatal strain of viral hemorrhagic fever, also known as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Employees who may come in contact with a patient who has been diagnosed or is suspected to be infected with Ebola include, but are not limited to, healthcare workers, mortuary workers, first responders, laboratory workers, and airline workers. Employers not in the health care industry may be faced with potential issues from traveling employees or in the normal course of business. Examples include airlines, employer-operated in-plant medical services, and transportation services, among others.
Though EVD does not spread as easily as other viruses like measles or seasonal flu, it represents a significant public health threat. Healthcare facilities are trained to respond to infectious virus outbreaks; however, recent events highlight the need for robust safety practices to protect medical professionals and others who may come in contact with the virus.
In response, numerous federal agencies have released guidance to help various public-facing sectors implement best practices for infectious disease management. The agencies’ guidance that has been released to-date is not binding on employers, but represents best practices for reducing the risk of infection. Updates are being posted to the Centers for Disease Control Ebola website.
Healthcare Settings (including First Responders)
Centers for Disease Control
Environmental Protection Agency
Clinical Laboratory Settings
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a website dedicated to emerging infectious disease that may also prove useful for guidance on preventing the spread of EVD and other infectious diseases in the workplace. In addition to the above-referenced documents, two OSHA regulations applicable to general industry that are relevant to EVD and worker exposure are the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (29 C.F.R. §1910.1030) and the Personal Protective Equipment Standard (29 C.F.R. Part 1910, Subpart I).
For information on OSHA compliance issues, please contact Keller and Heckman LLP’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group professionals Larry Halprin at 202-434-4177 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Manesh Rath at 202-434-4182 or email@example.com; David Sarvadi at 202-434-4249 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the general firm telephone number at 202-434-4100 or OSHALAW@khlaw.com.