Pandemic Guidance for Health Care Workers

OSHA has unveiled new safety and health guidance that focuses on protecting health care workers – who are most at risk of contracting influenza if a pandemic were to occur.

OSHA, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services, in February issued Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic, which was designed to help employers across a broad spectrum of industries and services understand what they should do to prepare their workplaces in the event of a pandemic. (For more, read “OSHA Unveils Pandemic Flu Guidance.”)

The new guidance – Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employers – will be a comprehensive resource for health care planners and practitioners, according to OSHA, and offers information and tools to assist industry in preparing for and responding to an influenza pandemic.

It includes technical information such as:

  • Infection control and industrial hygiene practices to reduce the risk of infection in health care settings.
  • Workplace preparations and planning issues.
  • OSHA standards that have special importance to pandemic preparedness planners and responders in the industry.

“During an influenza pandemic, the health care community will be on the frontline,” OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. said. “This new guidance provides information and tools to help protect health care workers.”

OSHA Suggests Reading Topics of Interest

The guidance provides a wide range of information and tools helpful to pandemic planners, including Internet resources, communication tools, sample infection control programs and self-triage and home care resources. It also offers how-to advice on diagnosis and treatment of staff during a pandemic, developing planning and supply checklists and risk communication.

Dr. Donald Wright, director of OSHA's Office of Occupational Medicine, Directorate of Science, Technology and Medicine, pointed out that since the new guidance is lengthy – approximately 100 pages – health care workers will find it more valuable to read the topics of interest to him or her. Wright said that he anticipated that most might be interested in the sections that describe infection control.

“These sections discuss both infection control practices and industrial hygiene practices, that if used consistently would help reduce workplace transmission of pandemic influenza,” Wright said.

To download the new OSHA guidance, click here.

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