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OSHA offers H1N1 guidance to employers, HCWs
Don't come to work sick. Perform hand hygiene after all patient contacts or after shaking someone's hand. Report any flu-like symptoms.
That common and common-sense advice is part of pandemic H1N1 guidance issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, OSHA offers a list of ways health care workers and their employers can reduce workplace exposure to H1N1.
The OSHA site (www.osha.gov/h1n1/index.html) includes a version geared toward employees. Among the steps that can be taken to reduce workplace exposures:
Install sneeze guards or reception windows at intake areas, partitions in triage areas, and other barriers between workers and the general public.
Where possible, rearrange or reorient service areas and workspaces so that workers are separated from co-workers, patients, visitors and the general public by a distance of at least 6 feet.
Place patients who have or may have 2009 H1N1 flu in individual rooms with the doors closed.
If single rooms are not available, patients who are infected with the same organism can be cohorted (share rooms).
Allow only those staff who are essential for patient care and support into patient isolation rooms.
Use portable HEPA filtration units to help reduce the concentration of contaminants in patient isolation room air.
Use patient isolation rooms with a hand washing sink, toilet, and bath facilities.
Where possible, use airborne infection isolation rooms when performing aerosol-generating such as:
bronchoscopy, sputum induction, endotracheal intubation and extubation, open suctioning of airways;
cardiopulmonary resuscitation, autopsies (during certain procedures).
Perform aerosol-generating procedures on patients who have or may have 2009 H1N1 flu only if medically necessary.
Exclude unprotected workers from rooms where aerosol-generating procedure have been conducted until sufficient time has passed to remove potentially infectious particles through air changes and normal air mixing.
Provide dedicated patient care equipment for 2009 H1N1 flu patients.
Use the appropriate Biosafety Level 2 in laboratory facilities that handle specimens from 2009 H1N1 flu patients.
If available, use closed suctioning systems and high-quality filters on the expiratory ports of ventilators.