Ebola Safety Guidelines for Your Employees
Texas Mutual’s tagline, Work Safe, TexasSM, is more than a catchy slogan. It embodies our vision of a safe workplace for every Texan. We work hard to help Texas employers protect their employees from the hazards of their jobs. Ebola is one of those potential hazards.
Our safety services department put together these safety guidelines. Remember that these are general guidelines. If you operate in an industry that carries a high risk of Ebola exposure, we encourage you to take advantage of the free resources referenced at the end of this post.
Understand the risk
Most Americans will likely never be exposed to Ebola. Certain industries, however, carry a higher risk, including mortuary/death care, airline servicing, laboratories, emergency services, humanitarian organizations and health care.
Learn how Ebola spreads
Ebola is not spread through the air, water, casual contact or food grown in the United States. Rather, it is most commonly spread through direct contact (broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose or mouth) with:
- Blood or bodily fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- Objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- Infected animals
Recognize the symptoms
If you are at increased risk of Ebola exposure, monitor yourself for these symptoms for at least 21 days:
- Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
There is no FDA-approved Ebola vaccine, so each of us is responsible for taking the steps necessary to protect ourselves:
- Monitor your health. If you have been in a high-risk environment, monitor yourself for symptoms for at least 21 days. If you exhibit symptoms, call your health care provider immediately.
- Practice hygiene. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose with unwashed or gloved hands.
- Avoid high-risk contact. Avoid close, unprotected contact with sick people. Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids, such as clothes, bedding, needles and medical equipment. Similarly, avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids and raw meat prepared from these animals.
- Wear protective gear. If you are visiting a health care facility, ask about impermeable protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection. Make sure protective suits meet World Health Organization standards, which require them to be impermeable and include breathing apparatuses. Make sure your head and neck are covered, and do not use tape to cover holes or gaps in protective gear. To learn how to safely remove protective clothing, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Reconsider travel plans. If you plan to travel to countries that have experienced cases of Ebola, try to reschedule your trip. If you cannot reschedule, make sure you are healthy, aware of the risks, and armed with the knowledge and tools you need to protect yourself. When you return, monitor yourself for symptoms for 21 days.