CDC and OSHA Release Guidance on Protecting Workers From Exposure to Zika Virus

Guidance Available for Business Travelers & More

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued new guidance for protecting workers from occupational exposure to Zika virus.

Background
Workers who are exposed on the job to mosquitoes or the blood or other body fluids of infected individuals may be at risk for occupationally acquired Zika virus infection. Under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm to employees. The agency guidance below may help employers comply with the law.

Business Travelers
The guidance provides the following tips to business travelers and their employers:

  • Follow CDC travel information to monitor areas with active Zika transmission.
  • Employers should consider allowing flexibility in required travel to areas with active Zika transmission for workers who are concerned about Zika virus exposure.
  • The CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission.
  • Consider delaying travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission, especially for workers who are or may become pregnant or whose sexual partners may become pregnant.
  • Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not pass Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.

The guidance also provides tips for healthcare and laboratory workers, and outdoor workers. The guidance may be updated as additional information becomes available. Affected employers are advised to read the guidance in its entirety.