San Diego, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles counties have seen an increase in hepatitis A outbreaks, and Cal/OSHA is encouraging employers and workers at risk of exposure to review safety measures to help in prevention and protection. The outbreak, which has killed at least 16 people in 2017, is marching through several other major cities in California. A large outbreak of hepatitis A has also been reported in Michigan. Hepatitis A is highly contagious liver disease. Its symptoms range from mild to severe, and the disease can be fatal.
"Employers must take steps to prevent or reduce the spread of the hepatitis A virus," Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said. "Preventive measures are essential to protecting workers at risk of exposure."
Help reduce the spread of hepatitis A in workplaces:
- Maintain a clean and sanitary workplace
- Clean restroom facilities
- Provide hand washing stations
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment
- Provide training
- Offer hepatitis A vaccinations
The hepatitis A outbreaks in California offer a warning to other communities to vaccinate and promote proper sanitation measures. The disease can be transmitted through direct contact, but more typically spreads through sanitary contamination. The disease has a short incubation period ranging from two to six weeks and can last for several weeks or as long as several months, possibly causing death.
Symptoms include jaundice, tiredness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, and light-colored bowel movements.
A person can be exposed to the virus after coming into contact with contaminated objects, food or drinks. OSHA says that employers should maintain a clean and sanitary workplace and continue to train and educate workers on handling unsanitary conditions. Proper hand washing stations and protective equipment, such as gloves, should also be provided.
Amplify Workplace Safety Messages
Public safety workers, health care staff and street sanitation employees are among those who have an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A. Post signage to remind workers to use proper PPE in unsanitary conditions and to wash their hands with soap and water after using the restroom, touching any object that may have been contaminated with fecal matter, and prior to eating, drinking, or smoking. Employees should also wash their hands after disposing of used gloves. Post safety notices or posters with information on how hepatitis A is transmitted and how to prevent infection. Label waste receptacles so that employees know where to properly dispose of contaminated and unsanitary items.
An industry leader in visual safety communication, Graphic Products has the products you need to help produce informative training and educational reminders. Print proper hand washing signs and more using a DuraLabel sign and label printer. Create your own safety signage, choose from premade safety signs, or custom signs unique to your facility needs.