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Infectious disease in the workplace can pose risks

Health care workers perform many vital functions for the people of Pennsylvania. They also face a myriad of risks in the workplace, including acquiring a serious infectious illness that can have lasting ramifications. Accordingly, it’s crucial that all workers have access to information as well as protective mechanisms in order to reduce the likelihood of becoming infected during the course of work.

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees details the necessary precautions that must be taken in workplaces where exposure to infectious diseases can occur. Workers should keep up to date on things like flu shots, and should remain in communication with doctors regarding past immunization records.  In the event that a vaccine is available for a particular illness, it’s recommended that the employer covers any costs necessary for proper protection. Vaccinations for things like Hepatitis B are especially important for those regularly exposed blood or other potentially contaminated bodily fluids.

Employees in the health care industry also run the risk of inadvertently pricking themselves with needles. In this case, there are alternative technologies in place that can reduce the chance of an accidental needle prick from occurring and the potential transmission of a serious illness. Having access to the correct protective gear is just as important, whether that entails surgical masks, gloves or even respirators.

 According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, workers should also be aware of the different routes through which contamination can occur. Some infectious agents can be acquired through inhalation (meaning the worker must breathe in airborne particles), or they can be exposed via direct contact. There is also a risk of being exposed to an illness via “droplets”, which occurs when a worker inadvertently comes in contact with minute portions of contaminated substances. Should these substances make their way to a person’s mouth, nose or eyes, illness can occur.  

If you've been exposed to an infectious disease at your place of work, discussing your case with an attorney is recommended. A workers’ compensation lawyer can identify potential options based on your specific needs. 

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