Pandemic Flu

Pandemic Influenza

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is pandemic influenza (flu)?

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak of a new influenza A virus. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population; begins to cause serious illness; and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide.

What are the hazards associated with pandemic flu?

Because of the scope of the outbreak, transmission can be anticipated in the workplace, not only in health care settings from patient to workers, but also among co-workers in general work settings. A pandemic would cause high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss. The number of deaths due to a pandemic flu outbreak would be expected to be high as compared to seasonal flu.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

The best approach towards reducing the risk of becoming ill with pandemic influenza is to avoid crowded settings and other situations that increase the risk of exposure to someone who may be infected. If you must be in a crowded setting, keep the amount of time you must remain there at a minimum.

Additional basic hygiene measures that can be followed to help reduce your changes of becoming infected with influenza include:

Some basic hygiene and social distancing precautions that can be used in every workplace include, but are not limited to:

  • Stay home if you are sick.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or with a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Dispose of tissues in no-touch trash receptacles.

  • Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

  • Avoid shaking hands and always wash your hands after physical contact with others.

  • If wearing gloves, always wash your hands after removing them.

  • Keep frequently touched common surfaces (for example, telephones, computer equipment, etc.) clean.

  • Avoid using other workers' phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment.

  • Minimize group meetings; use e-mails, phones and text messaging. If meetings are unavoidable, avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with others and ensure that the meeting room is properly ventilated.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle; attention to rest, diet, exercise and relaxation helps maintain physical and emotional health.

What resources are available to assist employers?

  • An example respirator program and PPE hazard assessment forms are available and can be customized to fit workplace conditions. Employers are required to perform a workplace hazard analysis to determine what personal protective equipment is necessary to protect employees from continued exposure to identified hazards.
  • Presentations on personal protective equipment and respiratory protection for general industry and construction provide general safety and health information on personal protective equipment and should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards.

Other resource information pertaining to personal protective equipment and respiratory protection can be found on the A-Z topics page. In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

 

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

There are no specific OSH standards for avian flu; however, the following standards can be applied:

Additionally, N.C. General Statute 95-129(1), commonly referred to as the General Duty Clause, may be applied for recognized serious hazards not covered by a specific NCDOL standard.

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.