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OSHA's Ebola guidelines aim to prevent being injured on the job

Proper infectious disease control training can make the difference between a healthcare worker being injured and the job or remaining healthy. In the event staff is injured on the job through contracting a disease, their employer's compensation insurance may be required to provide care benefits to ensure their health. The California Occupational Safety and Health Organization recently issued a series of guidelines for healthcare workers in response to the potential of an Ebola case presenting itself in a local hospital.

Although these guidelines were issued at the state level, OSHA has teamed up with other state agencies to help prevent potential exposure risks in the event the virus appears. Some of the changes include provision of protective body equipment that is impermeable to fluids and personal respirators for healthcare workers. A care provider that is not adequately covered may risk exposure to the deadly virus if they are caring for an Ebola patient.

It has been recommended that all staff be properly trained to handle the care of a victim and the safe removal of their protective equipment. The agency has published a complete list of easily accessible changes. When a hospital does not provide the correct training for infectious disease care and control, the provided safety gear can become obsolete and place workers in a dangerous situation.

The present reality of infectious disease arriving in the United States may leave healthcare workers in California questioning their safety and wondering about their legal rights should they be injured on the job and fall ill. The cost of treating an infectious disease can be staggering and may require extended time away from work. A person who does become sick on the job is likely entitled to workers' compensation benefits and may seek professional assistance in collecting them.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Cal/OSHA, CDC issue Ebola guidance as concern for workers continues", Oct. 24, 2014

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