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Thursday, 22 November 2007 01:27

Consider the Risk of Infectious Diseases

Written by  Emily Rhinehart, RN, MPH, CIC, CPHQ

Today’s headlines are full of disturbing stories about new occurrences and outbreaks of infectious diseases. Some of them such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), monkeypox, and West Nile virus are new and alarming. In addition, the threat of bioterrorism with deadly agents such as anthrax and smallpox continues to be a concern. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific rules to protect workers from exposure to blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and HIV, there are many other infections that can affect the workforce, which ultimately impacts corporate productivity and profits. Even though most infections are not occupationally acquired, health and safety programs should be proactive in identifying potential infectious threats to the workforce and preventing them when possible. From a public health and safety perspective, preventing illness and injury are the primary goals. With the exception of healthcare workers and first responders, most employees in the U.S. are