Emerging Issues--Infectious Agents and Epidemiology for EHS Practioners
(MMA, Saint Louis, MO)
Their names are ripped from the headlines--Legionnaires' Disease, Bird Flu, SARS, Ebola. Occupational health and industrial hygiene in the general workplace has been limited in the past with respect to infectious agents--with hazards of such agents being seen as public health issues only. In the contemporary workplace however, companies must address the intersection of community pathogens and the workplace with preparation and implementation of a hazard reduction plan. A basic understanding of types of pathogens, methods of transmission and risk reduction strategy is central to the preparation of a site or company plan for infectious agents. Both the workplace air-handling and housekeeping issues are core to understanding and minimizing risk for workplace transmission of infectious agents. An administrative program addressing procedures for dealing with workers with community acquired illness completes a site plan. Agents of particular interest in today's general workplace include influenza, MRSA and Ebola, and detailed review and analysis of the current issues for these agents are described. Sources of accurate information and free resources for the EHS Specialist are included. Strategies for identification of and preparation for the NEXT BIG DISEASE complete the presentation.