30.11.2009

How to address flu prevention for health care workers

For the protection of frontline health care and emergency medical workers at
high risk of infection, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) issued a compliance directive to ensure uniform
procedures when conducting inspections to identify and minimize or eliminate
high to very high risk occupational exposures to the 2009 H1N1 influenza A
virus.

The directive closely follows a guidance by the the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC).

The guidance will ensure that health care employers implement a hierarchy of
controls, and encourage vaccination and other work practices recommended by the
CDC. Where respirators are required to be used, the OSHA Respiratory Protection
standard must be followed, including worker training and fit testing. The
directive also applies to institutional settings where some workers may have
similar exposures, such as schools and correctional facilities.

The CDC recommends the use of respiratory protection that is at least as
protective as a fit-tested disposable N95 respirator for health care personnel
who are in close contact (within 6 feet) with patients who have suspected or
confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza.

Where respirators are not commercially available, an employer will be
considered to be in compliance if the employer can show a good faith effort has
been made to acquire respirators.

Where OSHA inspectors determine that a facility has not violated any OSHA
requirements but that additional measures could enhance the protection of
employees, OSHA may provide the employer with a hazard alert letter outlining
suggested measures to further protect workers.

The 2009 H1N1 influenza is transmitted via direct or indirect person-to-person
spreading of infectious droplets passed when an influenza patient coughs,
sneezes, talks or breathes. Transmission occurs when expelled infectious
droplets or particles make direct or indirect contact with the mucus membranes
of the mouth, nose or eyes of an uninfected person. The OSHA directive and
other guidelines show steps to eliminate the hazard.

More info


AplusA-online.de - Source: U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration