Certain professionals, such as doctors, nurses, laboratory workers, maintenance, sanitation and refuse workers, and wildlife workers, are at risk for contracting infectious diseases while at work. Healthcare workers—who may work in diverse settings such as hospitals, dental offices, and emergency response situations—are particularly vulnerable to occupational exposure to infectious disease. Even when employers and employees take proper safety precautions, unforeseeable accidents can occur that cause infectious disease.
Examples of infectious diseases that can be protracted while on the job include: MRSA; HIV/AIDS; Tuberculosis; Hepatitis; Whooping Cough; Influenza; Rabies (and other zoonoses, diseases spread by animals).
Employees who contract infectious diseases on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation. As with an injury, an employee that has contracted an infectious disease on the job should immediately inform his/her employer and seek medical attention.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identified three primary routes for infectious disease transmission in workplaces:
- Contact (direct or indirect) transmission can occur through skin-to-skin contact between an employee and patient. Indirect contact transmission can occur when an employee makes contact with a contaminated item such as a needle or doorknob. Examples of contact transmissible infections include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), also know as Staph Infection.
- Droplet transmission occurs when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or otherwise expels droplets. These droplets can then come into direct contact with an employee by landing on their mucosal surfaces (e.g. eyes, nose, mouth). Examples of droplet transmissible infectious diseases include influenzas.
- Airborne transmission occurs when small infectious particles are suspended in the air over an extended period of time. These particles, since they are small and suspended in the air, are capable of traveling over distances, and therefore do not require direct contact to spread. Examples of airborne transmissible diseases that are spread through inhalation are Mycobacterium tuberculosis,which causes tuberculosis (TB), and the rubella virus, which causes measles.
Feel free to contact the law offices of Gilbert, Blaszcyk & Milburn for a free consultation on your possible claim.