Guidance Health care/social assistance Workplace exposures

Guidelines aim to protect workers from Ebola

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Photo: nito100/iStock/Thinkstock

Geneva – As the largest Ebola outbreak in history spreads across West Africa, the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization have issued guidelines to help keep workers safe.

The groups offer recommendations for both workers and employees, including:

  • Health care workers should be briefed on the disease and how it is transmitted.
  • All staff handling suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola should wear special personal protective equipment for working with biohazards.
  • Only workers on trained burial teams using heavy-duty protective equipment may handle bodies or the body fluids of a person who has died of Ebola.
  • Workers have the right to remove themselves from a situation if they have reasonable justification to believe that it presents an imminent and serious danger.
  • Ebola and post-traumatic stress disorder, if contracted through exposure on the job, are considered occupational diseases.

“As the hundreds of infected medical workers illustrate, the Ebola outbreak is not just a public health emergency – it’s an issue of occupational safety and health,” Dennis Zulu – ILO chief program officer for Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone – said in a Sept. 1 blog post.