OSHA Guidance Helps Business Travelers Avoid Health Risks

Nearly one-third of all international travel in 2000 was business-related. Recognizing this fact, OSHA releases a guidance that provides safety and health information for international business travelers.

Nearly one-third of all international travel in 2000 was business-related. Recognizing this fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a guidance that provides safety and health information for international business travelers. The agency also has listed sources for guidelines offered by other agencies to reduce health risks.

"Many employees now travel to countries where they risk contracting infectious diseases that could be prevented through vaccinations and simple precautions while traveling," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Our new technical information bulletin will help international travelers take care of their health while they take care of business."

The OSHA bulletin suggests that international business travelers follow the recommendations for immunizations published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are available at www.cdc.gov/travel. In addition, the new OSHA guide urges business travelers to consult the Department of State consular information sheet for individual countries they plan to visit. These country guides and other helpful State Department publications are available at travel.state.gov.

According to the Partnership for Prevention, a nonprofit health policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., there has been a significant increase in the number of Americans traveling to countries where infectious diseases are prevalent.

"Most travel-related illnesses can be prevented," admitted John M. Clymer, Partnership president. "We commend OSHA for urging business travelers to make travel health a priority and hope this bulletin will help prevent needless infections. Options for prevention are readily available through travel medicine clinics, occupational health providers and primary care physicians."

Some travel tips applicable for all travelers include washing hands frequently, walking and driving defensively and wearing seatbelts, avoiding dairy products that may not be pasteurized and eating only food that has been properly cooked. For example, OSHA recommends that travelers visiting developing areas drink only bottled water or carbonated drinks, avoid going barefoot, refrain from eating food purchased from street vendors and avoid handling animals that may carry infectious diseases-especially monkeys, dogs and cats.

Depending on the country visited, the Partnership warns that travelers can be exposed to a myriad of infectious diseases, including hepatitis A and B and malaria, the most serious infectious disease threat to travelers, according to the World Health Organization.

OSHA''s new technical information bulletin, "Safety and Health During International Travel," is available on the agency''s Web site at www.osha.gov.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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