Online Program

Problems In Protecting Healthcare Workers From Exposure to H1N1 And Ebola. Why Is The Infection Control Community In Charge Instead Of OSHA And NIOSH And What Can Be Done About It

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

William Kojola, MS, Safety and Health Department, Retired, AFL-CIO, Silver Spring, MD
OSHA and NIOSH are the federal agencies with the legal authority, responsibility, and the occupational safety and health expertise to protect our nations workforce from workplace hazards. However, that’s not the case for healthcare workers who provide care for patients infected with H1N1, Ebola, and other infectious diseases. Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the infection control community, which is principally focused on patient safety, have had nearly absolute control for decades over recommending protections for healthcare workers from infectious agents with minimal input from OSHA or NIOSH. This control posed hazards to healthcare workers during the H1N1 pandemic and the Ebola outbreak with respect to the CDC’s and infection control community’s inadequate recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE), including respiratory protection. This presentation will examine the experience and controversy over the CDC PPE recommendations for healthcare workers during the H1N1 and Ebola events. It will describe the lack of occupational safety and health input and expertise of CDC’s federal advisory committee, Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), which provided inadequate PPE recommendations and support to CDC for healthcare workers protections when exposed to H1N1 and Ebola. The presentation will explain some of the underlying reasons why CDC and the infection control community largely ignore basic occupational safety and health principles, OSHA, and NIOSH and suggest actions that could remedy this problem and enhance healthcare worker protections for infectious diseases.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
List at least two examples of how CDC recommendations for personal protective equipment were inadequate and posed hazards to healthcare workers providing care to patients infected with H1N1 and Ebola. Describe at least two underlying reasons why CDC and the infection control community largely ignore the expertise of OSHA and NIOSH when developing its infection control and personal protective equipment recommendations for healthcare workers exposed to infectious agents. Identify at least one action that could enhance the protections for healthcare workers exposed to infectious diseases.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: At the AFL-CIO, I was involved in issues of protecting healthcare workers from exposure to pandemic influenza, including during the H1N1 pandemic. I was a member of the 2009 Institute of Medicine committee that was charged with determining if respirators, rather than surgical masks, should be recommended for healthcare workers providing care for H1N1-infected patients. I continue to provide advice to the AFL-CIO on appropriate infection control measures necessary when caring for Ebola patients.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.