OSHA issues advisory to protect workers from Zika virus

Construction industry workers considered at high risk.

April 29, 2016 |
OSHA issues advisory to protect workers from Zika virus

Photo: coniferconifer/Creative Commons.

New rules, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, urge employers to inform outdoor workers of the risks of exposure to the Zika virus.

The virus is transmitted through mosquito bites and the agencies advise employers to train employees on how to protect themselves. The agencies say employers should provide insect repellents and encourage their use, and urge workers to wear clothing that protects their hands, arms, legs, and other exposed areas. 

Employers should also consider providing workers with hats outfitted with mosquito netting to protect the face and neck. The guidelines also call on employers to consider reassigning female workers who are pregnant or may become pregnant and male workers whose partner is pregnant or may become pregnant to indoor jobs to reduce their risk of mosquito bites.

To prevent mosquito breeding areas, employers should remove standing water from work sites. Zika infections can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. There is also strong scientific consensus that Zika can cause Guillain-Barre disease, which causes temporary paralysis in adults.

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