OSHA Issues Recommendations to Reduce Anthrax Risk

Oct. 30, 2001
OSHA issues recommendations for employers that the agency hopes will reduce the risk of anthrax exposure.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued recommendations for employers and employees that the agency hopes will reduce the risk of anthrax exposure when handling mail.

"The risk of exposure to anthrax in most offices is minute, however a few common sense steps should always be taken," said Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. "These will help companies and their employees reduce the risk of exposure. Now, more than ever, we must work together to protect the health of our employees."

Chao advised workers to exercise good judgment and caution when handling mail and take the following precautionary measures as outlined by OSHA:

  • Be on the lookout for suspicious letters and packages, including packages or envelopes of unusual weight or size, packages or envelopes with a handwritten address and/or no return address and packages or envelopes with excessive postage.
  • Open packages/envelopes with a minimum amount of movement and always use a letter opener or method that is least likely to disturb the contents.
  • Do not blow into envelopes.
  • Do not shake or pour out the contents.
  • Keep hands away from nose and mouth when opening mail.
  • Always wash hands after handling mail.

Chao added that if employers or employees choose to use protective equipment such as gloves, it is important they take necessary steps to make sure these items are handled and used properly.

edited by Sandy Smith

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