OSHA to Hold Meetings, Solicit Comments on Infectious Disease Exposure

OSHA will hold two stakeholder meetings in Washington, D.C., on July 29 to receive comments on occupational exposure to infectious diseases and consider a possible future rulemaking to protect employees from on-the-job disease exposure.

“We know that workers in health care and related facilities may be exposed to infectious agents, and they deserve to be protected,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels. “Information gained from these meetings will help us determine the best approach to assure that workers don’t put themselves at risk while caring for patients and doing their job.”

The two meetings will be held July 29, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Room N-4437, Washington, D.C. 20210. To participate in one of the stakeholder meetings, or be a nonparticipating observer, individuals must submit a notice of intent electronically, by facsimile or by hard copy no later than July 22. For registration information, visit https://www2.ergweb.com/projects/conferences/osha/register-osha-stakeholder.htm.

Meeting discussions will focus on issues including the advantages and disadvantages of using a program standard to limit occupational exposure to infectious diseases; whether and to what extent an OSHA standard should require employers to develop a written worker infection control plan that documents how employers will implement infection control measures to protect workers; and whether and to what extent OSHA should take alternative approaches to rulemaking to improve compliance with current infection control guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other authoritative agencies.

OSHA actively has explored this issue since May 6, 2010, when the agency published a Request for Information on Infectious Diseases to gather comments on strategies that currently are used to reduce the risk of workplace exposure to infectious agents. Based on the responses and an ongoing review of literature, OSHA is considering development of a proposed program standard to control worker exposures to infectious agents in health care or other settings.

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