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OSHA to consider infectious disease standard

OSHA isn’t focusing on just aerosol transmissible disease for new regulations; instead it is considering a standard applying to all possible routes of infectious disease transmission.

That was the information conveyed by David Michaels, assistant secretary for OSHA during his regulatory Web chat, April 26. [1]

The Infectious Disease request for information (RFI) is currently with the Office of Management and Budget for review, and a fact sheet [2] on the RFI says that such regulation could protect 16.5 million healthcare and social service workers from infectious diseases via contact, droplet, and airborne transmission routes.

This is a departure from OSHA’s regulatory agenda announcement last fall [3] that identified only aerosol transmissible disease hazards as the reason for considering a new standard, similar to the one enacted in California. [4]

The fact sheet [2] notes that workplace-acquired infections are not only a persistent problem but there are also increasing levels of drug-resistant microorganisms to them.

OSHA is also concerned that most infection control measures in healthcare facilities are patient-safety oriented that perhaps overlook worker safety considerations, according to the fact sheet [2].

The RFI will collect information on:

What do you think of having an OSHA standard that specifically addresses infectious disease from contact, droplet, and airborne transmission routes? Let us know in the comment section below.

Editor’s note: Click here for the RFI, [5] which was published in the Ma May 6 Federal Register. Submit comments electronically, for docket number OSHA-2010-0003 at www.regulations.gov [6]. The comment period closes August 4.