Fundamental Elements to Prevent Influenza Transmission

Preventing transmission of influenza virus and other infectious agents within healthcare settings requires a multi-faceted approach. Spread of influenza virus can occur among patients, HealthCare Personnel (HCP), and visitors; in addition, HCP may acquire influenza from persons in their household or community. The core prevention strategies include:

  • administration of influenza vaccine
  • implementation of respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • appropriate management of ill HCP
  • adherence to infection control precautions for all patient-care activities and aerosol-generating procedures
  • implementing environmental and engineering infection control measures.

Successful implementation of many, if not all, of these strategies is dependent on the presence of clear administrative policies and organizational leadership that promote and facilitate adherence to these recommendations among the various people within the healthcare setting, including patients, visitors, and HCP. These administrative measures are included within each recommendation where appropriate. Furthermore, this guidance should be implemented in the context of a comprehensive infection prevention program to prevent transmission of all infectious agents among patients and HCP.

OSHA to focus on improving safety and health at nursing home facilities

Statement from Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA on increase
of nonfatal occupational injuries among health care workers
OSHA to focus on improving safety and health at nursing home facilities

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics today released detailed data on nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work in 2010. The incidence rate for health care support workers increased 6 percent to 283 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, almost 2 1/2 times the rate for all private and public sector workers at 118 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. The rate among nursing aides, orderlies and attendants rose 7 percent, to 489 per 10,000 workers. Additionally, the rate of musculoskeletal disorder cases with days away from work for nursing aides, orderlies and attendants increased 10 percent to a rate of 249 cases per 10,000 workers.

Assistant Secretary for the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration Dr. David Michaels issued the following statement in response:

"It is unacceptable that the workers who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are sick are the very same workers who face the highest risk of work-related injury and illness. These injuries can end up destroying a family's emotional and financial security. While workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities take an enormous toll on this nation's economy – the toll on injured workers and their families is intolerable.

"The rates of injuries and illnesses among hospital and health care workers underscore OSHA's concern about the safety and health of these workers. OSHA is responding by launching, in the next few months, a National Emphasis Program on Nursing Home and Residential Care Facilities. Through this initiative, we will increase our inspections of these facilities, focusing on back injuries from resident handling or lifting patients; exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other infectious diseases; workplace violence; and slips, trips and falls.

"The workers that care for our loved ones deserve a safe workplace and OSHA is diligently working to make this happen."

Visit us online to ensure you are training your healthcare employees to help reduce the number of injuries on the job site.

How do I know if the Respiratory Protection standard applies to me?

An atmosphere is hazardous if it does not contain sufficient oxygen, or if it contains chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants in sufficient quantity to harm the health of employees. For example, information on the type and levels of hazardous airborne exposures in your workplace and on the engineering and administrative controls available to you should be used when evaluating the need for a respirator program.

The vendor who supplies your engineering controls may be able to help you determine whether the controls will adequately protect your employees from respiratory hazards. You must evaluate the level of contamination in your workplace after the engineering controls are installed. You must base selections of respirators on the hazards to which your employees are exposed and must consider how workplace and user factors affect respirator performance and reliability.

Workplace factors refer to the actual workplace facility and its geographic characteristics, among other factors. User factors refer to the distinguishing characteristics of the individual employee. Some examples include the following:
  • The level of the contaminant in relation to the Assigned Protection Factors (APFs) of available respirators.
  • The conditions of the workplace (e.g., size, configuration, temperature, humidity) of the workspace.
  • Ease of employee communication.
  • Ease or difficulty of the work or rate of activity.
  • The type of workplace tasks and proximity to the source of contamination (e.g., cutting wood on a band saw would differ from hand polishing a wood veneer on furniture).
  • The location and movement of other personnel and equipment.
Please visit our web site for Respiratory safety training materials and other resources.