OSHA Releases Interim Zika Virus Guidance for Employers & Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have prepared interim guidance for employers and workers in regards to the Zika Virus.   Employers should address the signs and symptoms, teach prevention techniques, as well as what to do if you think you have been exposed to the Zika Virus.

MosquitoThe Zika virus infections began to spread across the United States and the Caribbean in 2015.  As of August of 2016, there were 1819 reported cases  found to be travel-associated cases and 6 reported cases were found to be locally-acquired, which means “presumed local mosquito-borne transmission” according the CDC.

For most, infected individuals will notice mild symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain and red or pink eyes. Additional symptoms include myalgia (muscle pain) or headache.  However, the CDC recommends that women who are or may become pregnant to take extra precaution, as the virus is know to cause serious birth defects.

As an employer, OSHA recommends that you:

  • Train employees on how to protect themselves
  • Train employees on how to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitos on work sites
  • Provide and encourage the use of mosquito repellent
  • Provide protective clothing like hats with mosquito netting
  • Allow employees to receive proper and timely medical attention after potential exposure to Zika Virus.

Tips to Protect Yourself:

  • Make sure the insect repellent used contains DEET or another EPA registered active ingredient.
  • Check to see if the repellent provides adequate protection for the length of time needed.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers all exposed areas of skin.
  • Remove sources of stagnant water to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.  This includes buckets of water, tires, drums, barrels, etc.
  • If you or your partner may become pregnant, talk to your supervisor about reassignment indoors.
  • Always discuss any potential exposure to mosquitos or infections with your healthcare provider.
  • Additional PPE may be required if you work closely with insecticides.

Visit OSHA.gov for more information about protecting workers from Zika Virus.

Always follow recommendations set by OSHA, NIOSH or your healthcare provider.  If you have more questions, SRP will be glad to assist you. Call us toll-free us today at (866) 222-4972 or visit us online.   We have seven convenient locations in Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Midland, Shreveport and Pittsburgh.