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OSHA guidance for employees at risk for Zika exposure

For Pennsylvania employees who are required to travel as part of their work, mosquito-borne diseases may be a risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration chas issued a guide that includes information about the disease to help employers prevent occupational exposure.

The interim guidance recommends that employers should inform workers who have to travel about the risks of mosquito-born viruses, particularly Zika exposure. The workers should be provided with repellents and encouraged to use them. Additionally, the employees should be provided with appropriate clothing that that protects against mosquito bites. Some clothing items may include hats with mosquito netting, long socks that cover the lower legs and long-sleeve shirts. If an employee or an employee's partner is pregnant or may become pregnant, employers should consider reassigning the employee to reduce the risk of exposure.

If an employee was exposed to the virus or has a confirmed case, OSHA recommends that the employee should receive immediate medical attention. They may also require sick leave especially during the infectious period. If the employee was required to travel through areas that are known to be affected by the virus, certain precautions should be taken and employees should be aware of the symptoms so they can get help if they need it.

While workers' compensation is traditionally associated with injuries resulting from workplace accidents, benefits can also be payable to people who contract occupational diseases. Workers may want to be advised that employers will sometimes try to deny these claims on the allegation that the illness was not connected with employment conditions, so they might as a result find it advisable to have the assistance of an attorney throughout the process.

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