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MRSA in the workplace: What you need to know

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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – more commonly known as MRSA – is a potentially dangerous type of staph bacteria that can lead to difficult-to-treat infections. MRSA is resistant to certain antibiotics and, although an infection may begin as a skin sore, it can become serious and potentially deadly, NIOSH warns.

How it spreads

MRSA usually is spread by coming in contact with infected skin, but it can also transfer if you touch a surface an infected person previously touched. It generally appears as a bump on the skin that may be red, warm, full of pus and painful.

According to NIOSH, five C’s allow MRSA to spread more easily:

Frequent skin-to-skin Contact
Compromised skin (such as a cut, rash or scrape)
Contaminated items and surfaces
Lack of Cleanliness

NIOSH points out that as long as the wound is kept clean, dry and covered, typically an employee with MRSA can safely continue to work.


Employers and supervisors can help prevent the spread of MRSA. Among the ways:

  • Promote a culture of safety to demonstrate you care about workers’ health.
  • Ensure all workers have access to washrooms and handwashing supplies, and actively encourage them to practice proper hand hygiene.
  • Maintain good, routine housekeeping.
  • Immediately clean and disinfect any surface that has come in contact with MRSA drainage or blood.
  • Ensure personal protective equipment and first aid supplies are available to workers.

To learn more about MRSA in the workplace, visit

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