pdf

Workplace Safety Guidance Information Resource: Highly Infectious Diseases

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

  • Detailed Hospital Checklist for EVD Preparedness
  • Checklist of Patients Being Evaluated for EVD in the U.S.
  • Identify, Isolate, Inform: Emergency Department Evaluation and Management for Patients Who Present with Possible EVD Safe Management of Patients with EVD in U.S. Hospitals
  • Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Hospitalized Patients with Known or Suspected EVD in U.S. Hospitals
  • Personal Protective Equipment Recommendations, Including Donning and Doffing
  • Guidance on Safe Handling of Human Remains of EVD-Infected Patients
  • Information on EVD-Associated Waste Management
  • Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals (Interim Guidance)
  • Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for Management of Patients with Known or Suspected EVD in the United States
  • Guidance on Air Medical Transport for Patients with EVD

Environmental Protection Agency

  • EPA Guidance on Use of Antimicrobials to Control EVD
  • EPA List of Disinfectants for Use Against the Ebola Virus

Clinical Laboratory Settings

Centers for Disease Control

  • Interim Guidance for Specimen Collection, Transport, Testing, and Submission for Persons Under Investigation for EVD in the United States
  • How U.S. Clinical Laboratories Can Safely Manage Specimens from Persons Under Investigation for EVD
  • Interim Guidance Regarding Compliance with Select Agent Regulations for Laboratories Handling Patient Specimens that are Known or Suspected to Contain Ebola Virus

Non-Healthcare Settings

Centers for Disease Control

  • Interim Guidance about Ebola Infection for Airline Crews, Cleaning Personnel, and Cargo Personnel
  • Interim Guidance for the U.S. Residence Decontamination for EVD and Removal of Contaminated Waste

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

  • OSHA Guidance on Cleaning and Decontamination of Ebola on Surfaces for Workers and Employers in Non-healthcare/Non-laboratory Settings  
  • Protecting Workers During a Pandemic

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 halprin@khlaw.com; Manesh Rath at 202-434-4182 or rath@khlaw.com; David Sarvadi at 202-434-4249 or sarvadi@khlaw.com, or through the general firm telephone number at 202-434-4100 or OSHALAW@khlaw.com.  


For information on EPA pesticide registration activities for antimicrobial products, please contact Keller and Heckman LLP’s Pesticide Practice Group professionals.  Mike Novak at 202-434-4485 or
novak@khlaw.com or David Sarvadi at 202-434-4249 or sarvadi@khlaw.com, or through the general firm telephone number at 202-434-4100 or at pesticides@khlaw.com.