Oakland-- Although widespread outbreak of Ebola in the United States is unlikely, Cal/OSHA has joined with other public health agencies in California to provide guidelines for preventing exposure to Ebola. They will be widely distributed starting today.
Federal officials have identified workers in certain professions to be at potential risk of exposure. Those workers include health care workers, emergency responders, laboratory staff, mortuary workers, airline flight crews and airport staff, and quarantine operations staff.
The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and its Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, have coordinated with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to issue interim guidelines for workers in these occupations and their employers.
“California’s workplace safety and health standards go further than national standards in protecting workers from hazards such as Ebola,” said Juliann Sum, Acting Chief of Cal/OSHA. “We urge employers and their workers who may be at risk to pay careful attention to our guidance and check for updates as new information becomes available.”
In 2009, California adopted an occupational health regulation that specifically addresses infectious diseases like Ebola, which can spread by small liquid droplets that may come in contact with mucous membranes. This regulation, known as the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard, helped inform the guidelines released today. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects that have been contaminated.
“California’s workplace safety and health standards go further than national standards in protecting workers from hazards such as Ebola,”
The new guidance recommends that employers:
The California Department of Public Health has a variety of updated information on Ebola and reporting requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also posted specific information for health care workers and settings.
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