UPDATE: Read our new post, "The Safety Professional’s Role in Planning for a Pandemic," which explains the key role OSH professionals play in helping organizations protect their workers, communicate the risks and ensure business continuity.
In response to growing concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a respiratory illness, OSHA has published a safety and health topics page
that provides additional background information, outlines controls and prevention measures, and provides links to additional resources.
First reported in China, cases of the infection have been reported in the U.S., Japan, Thailand and South Korea. OSHA says there is "no evidence of ongoing transmission of 2019-nCoV in the U.S. at this time," noting that as long as human-to-human transmission is not sustained most workers in the U.S. are not at significant risk of infection at this time. However, the agency cautions that some individuals may be at greater risk.
"Workers involved in airline operations (including cabin crew members), healthcare (including clinical laboratory personnel) and border protection may have exposure to travelers infected with the virus in China or other affected areas," OSHA explains. "Business travelers from the U.S. who visit areas abroad where the virus is spreading may also be at some risk of exposure."
OSHA advises employers to consult CDC's interim guidelines specific to 2019-nCoV
. CDC is closely monitoring the developing situation and its guidelines offer precautions for U.S. travelers, healthcare professionals, public health professionals and laboratories. On Jan. 27, 2020, CDC recommended that people avoid nonessential travel to China. "The goal of the ongoing U.S. public health response is to contain this outbreak and prevent sustained spread in this country," CDC explains.
For the latest information on the outbreak, visit CDC’s Novel Coronavirus 2019
website. World Health Organization
is also publishing situation reports
that summarize the latest developments on the outbreak. The reports provide current statistics, WHO recommendations and links for more information.
Photo caption: New type coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan has been spreading many cities in China. People wearing surgical masks sitting in subway in Shanghai. Robert Wei/iStock Editorial/Getty Images