As health care workers at UCLA and other hospitals prepare for the possibility of treating a patient infected with Ebola, the state issued a series of workplace guidelines Friday aimed at preventing exposure and spread of the deadly disease.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health — Cal/OSHA — announced that the guidelines will be widely distributed across the state, most notably to health care workers, emergency responders, laboratory workers, airline flight crews, airport staff and mortuary employees.
“California’s workplace safety and health standards go further than national standards in protecting workers from hazards such as Ebola,” said Juliann Sum, acting chief of Cal/OSHA. “We urge employers and their workers who may be at risk to pay careful attention to our guidance and check for updates as new information becomes available.”
The guidelines recommends that employers:
— ensure that workers at risk of exposure to Ebola wear gloves, impermeable body coverings, face shields or other eye and face protection, and appropriate respiratory protection;
— ensure that all personal protective equipment is adequate to prevent the passage of bodily fluids to the employee’s clothing and skin;
— train employees in the use of all applicable protective equipment, including respirators;
— instruct employees on how to safely put on and take off equipment;
— give employees opportunities to practice with the respirators and other equipment they will use;
— provide dedicated, separate areas for the donning and removing of protective gear;
— use either a buddy system or other means of assisting employees in donning and removing protective equipment;
— provide additional protective gear, such as double gloves and disposable shoe and leg coverings, in environments where copious amounts of blood, vomit, feces or other bodily fluids are present; and
— ensure that workers conducting aerosol-generating procedures such as intubation or bronchoscopy perform the procedures in an airborne infection isolation room, if feasible, or at least in a private room with the door closed.
The state also reminded employers and workers that any suspected cases of Ebola must be promptly reported to the local public health department.
—City News Service
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