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Protecting workers from monkeypox: Cal/OSHA issues guidance

Photo: Bill Oxford/iStockphoto

Sacramento, CA — New guidance from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is aimed at protecting workers from monkeypox – a viral disease that spreads mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who’s infected.

The guidelines apply to workplaces covered by the state’s standard on aerosol transmissible diseases, including health care facilities, public health services, medical transport and police.

Employers can help limit transmission risk by implementing written procedures for exposure incidents. Additionally, they should provide personal protective equipment – including respiratory protection – and ensure it’s properly used by employees exposed to individuals with the virus or suspected to be infected, or to linens or surfaces that may contain the virus. All exposures should be reported to local health officials.


Cal/OSHA advises employers and workers to be aware of symptoms that are similar to the flu, such as fever, low energy, body aches and swollen lymph nodes. A rash or lesions can develop that can be painful and itchy. The illness typically lasts two to four weeks.

The agency notes that its standard on aerosol transmissible diseases has different requirements for three types of employers: referring employers, laboratories and all others. Referring employers include outpatient medical or dental clinics and offices, where workers can come in contact with infected patients. In laboratory operations, workers can be exposed when handling materials that contain the virus.

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