OSHA Guidance

OSHA Unveils Guidance Concerning Avian Flu

On November 14th, 2006, The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) unveiled new safety and health guidance that alerts employees and employers about the hazards of occupational exposure to avian influenza from infected birds, or “avian flu,” and provides practical recommendations on ways to avoid infection.

OSHA Guidance Update on Protecting Employees from Avian Flu Viruses, as well as other important resource information on the topic, is available in English and Spanish by visiting the In Focus section on the home page of OSHA’s Web site at www.osha.gov.

“We encourage employers and employees who are most likely to be exposed to avian flu to take the appropriate precautions,” said OSHA Administrator Ed Foulke. “This guidance offers them practical tips, such as hand washing and the use of proper protective equipment, for preventing illness.”

The new document updates guidance on avian flu issued by OSHA in 2004. The update provides separate recommendations for poultry employees and those who handle other animals, and for laboratory employees, healthcare personnel, food handlers, travelers, and U.S. employees stationed abroad. The primary focus is on good hygiene, including use of gloves and hand washing, as well as respiratory protection for those who work with infected animals or individuals.

The guidance also 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 avian flu, a summary of the bird importation regulations, and details on the transmission of the virus.