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OSHA Offers Zika Virus Guidance

OSHA has issued an “interim guidance” with advice for employers and workers about how to prevent exposure to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Although the information is aimed mainly at workers in outdoor occupations, it is applicable to anyone living in a part of the country susceptible to Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

For up-to-date information of the areas of the United States where Zika is currently a concern, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html

OSHA said employers in high-risk areas should inform workers about their risks of exposure, provide insect repellant and encourage its use.

In warm weather, OSHA says employers should encourage workers to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that creates a mosquito barrier.

Employers and workers should schedule work to eliminate sources of standing water (such as tires, buckets, cans, bottles and barrels), considered mosquito breeding areas.

OSHA also stresses that if employees request employers to do so, you should consider reassigning to indoor tasks any female worker who indicates she is pregnant or may become pregnant, as well as any male worker who has a sexual partner who is pregnant or may become pregnant.

The agency also urges workers in these circumstances to talk to their supervisors about being reassigned to indoor work assignments.

For employers of workers who are suspected or confirmed to have the Zika virus, OSHA also recommends a “general guidance” that includes making certain supervisors and potentially exposed workers know about Zika symptoms.

Workers also should be encouraged to seek immediate medical attention after suspected exposure, and explicit options for providing sick leave during the infectious period should be considered by the employer.

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