Protecting Against Occupational Exposure to Ebola Virus

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Protecting Against Occupational Exposure to Ebola Virus

It is critical to follow these OSHA requirements and recommendations, if your work activities are conducted in an environment that is known or reasonably suspected to be contaminated with Ebola virus (eg, due to contamination with blood or other potentially infectious material). Precautionary measures for preventing exposure to the Ebola virus depend on the type of work, potential for Ebola-virus contamination of the work environment, and what is known about other potential exposure hazards. Infection control strategies may have to be modified to include additional selections of personal protective equipment (PPE), administrative controls, and/or safe work practices.
  • Employers should follow recognized and generally accepted good infection control practices, and must meet applicable requirements in the Personal Protective Equipment standard (29 CFR 1910.132, general requirements) and the Respiratory Protection standard (CFR 1910.134).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends working inside a certified Class II biosafety cabinet when handling or manipulating specimens from a person under investigation for Ebola virus disease (EVD).
  • Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and good hand hygiene protocols to avoid exposure to infected blood and body fluids, contaminated objects, or other contaminated environmental surfaces.
  • Wear gloves, wash hands with soap and water after removing gloves, and discard used gloves in properly labeled waste containers.
  • Workers who may be splashed, sprayed, or spattered with blood or body fluids from environmental surfaces where Ebola virus contamination is possible must wear face and eye protection, such as a full-face shield or surgical masks with goggles. Aprons or other fluid-resistant protective clothing must also be worn in these situations to prevent the worker's clothes from being soiled with infectious material.
  • Workers tasked with cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated with Ebola virus must be protected from exposure. Employers are responsible for ensuring that workers are protected from exposure to Ebola and that workers are not exposed to harmful levels of chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection.
  • PPE that covers the clothing and skin and completely protects mucous membranes (ie, covers all of the nose and mouth) is required when caring for patients with Ebola.
  • Employers must train workers about the sources of Ebola exposure and appropriate precautions. Employers must train workers required to use PPE on what equipment is necessary, when and how they must use it, and how to dispose of the equipment. In addition where workers are exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials, employers must provide the training required by the Bloodborne Pathogens standard, including information about how to recognize tasks that may involve exposure and the methods to reduce exposure, including engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment.
UPDATE: In late 2019, the FDA approved a vaccine for the prevention of Ebola virus disease (EVD). The vaccine is named Ervebo.