OSHA Releases Workplace Flu Control Guidance

February 7, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New federal government guidance on dealing with an influenza pandemic offers specific protections for each of four risk zones in a workplace based on the likelihood workers will get infected in each area.

A news release from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that it was offering recommendations for employee protection for each zone that include engineering controls, work practices and use of personal protective equipment such as respirators and surgical masks.

Developed in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the document provides general guidance for all types of workplaces; describes the differences between seasonal, avian and pandemic influenza; and presents information on the nature of a potential pandemic, how the virus is likely to spread and how exposure is likely to occur, according to the news release.

The guidance also encourages employers to plan to deal with a depleted workforce during a pandemic.

The document points out that government information sharing needs to change as officials learn more about the particular strain behind a flu outbreak including the way it’s spread.

The latest government guidance includes links to helpful Web sites with additional information and a list of technical articles and resources, including a history on flu pandemics, symptoms and outcomes of various strains of the influenza, and details on the transmission of the virus. Also up-to-date information and guidance is available through www.pandemicflu.gov , the federal government’s Web site for information regarding pandemic flu.

The guidance document is here .