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Monkeypox virus: New fact sheet from OSHA

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Washington — In an effort to prevent work-related transmission of the monkeypox virus, OSHA is urging employers and workers whose jobs may involve skin-to-skin contact with infected people or animals to take precautions.

According to a new fact sheet from OSHA, at-risk workers include health care workers and first responders; workers in congregate settings such as hotels, correctional facilities, and recreational facilities or social venues; massage, spa, fitness and salon workers; housekeepers, janitors, cleaning service workers, dry cleaning and laundry workers; and animal care workers, including veterinary staff.

Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fact sheet notes that although the risk of exposure is “extremely low” in most work settings, monkeypox “can spread through direct contact with an infected person or animal – including close contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs or body fluids, including respiratory droplets – and contaminated materials such as clothing, bedding and towels.”

Symptoms can include a painful or itchy rash, headaches, fatigue, back and body aches, fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. On rare occasions, respiratory issues such as a cough, sore throat or nasal congestion are possible.

 

Employers should instruct workers to:

  • Be alert for people with rashes or symptoms consistent with monkeypox.
  • Isolate infected people from others and cover their skin lesions.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have visible lesions or are ill.
  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing their hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which the employer should provide at no cost.
  • Avoid unprotected contact with potentially contaminated materials, such as clothing, bedding or eating utensils, used by an infected person in any setting.

Employers should ensure employees with monkeypox isolate and are restricted from work when symptoms develop. Infected workers shouldn’t return to the job until any rash has healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

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