Protecting Workers from Ebola & Other Infectious Diseases
The news is filled with headlines about the Ebola outbreak in Africa and infected individuals in the US and Europe. (There are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola in Canada.)
Ebola is a very serious disease that causes haemorrhagic fever and can lead to significant internal bleeding and organ failure, often resulting in death.
Should you be concerned about Ebola in your workplace? If your workplace is in the healthcare industry, such as a hospital, clinic or ambulance service, your workers could be at risk of contracting Ebola, although the risk is minimal.
For example, two nurses who were involved in the treatment of an infected man in Texas (who later died) were recently found to have been infected.
Although healthcare workers are at far greater risk of contracting other infectious diseases, such as the flu or hepatitis, than of getting Ebola, it’s still a good idea to educate yourself and your workers on this disease and proper safety measures for minimizing or eliminating the risk of exposure to it. (Even outside of healthcare, education of your workforce on Ebola is a good idea.)
Health Canada has a page devoted to Ebola that contains information on:
- The disease
- Its causes and risks
- Its symptoms
- Prevention (including use of appropriate PPE) and treatment.
More importantly, the Ebola outbreak is a good reminder of the importance of effective safety measures to protect workers from any infectious disease, including:
- Properly handling “sharps”
- Good hygiene practices, from clean bathrooms to proper hand-washing
- An exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens for first aid providers.