a worker wears a medical mask for protection against disease

CA Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard Adopted

The California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board voted 6-0 on May 21 to adopt a new Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) regulation that will require covered employers in high-risk settings to protect employees against aerosol transmissible pathogens including TB, SARS, and pertussis.

Bill Borwegen, OSH director for the Service Employees International Union, described the importance of the standard to health care workers in post today on The Pump Handle, a popular safety and health blog.

Section 5199 sets minimum requirements for controlling employees' exposures and includes in its scope a wide range of operations: hospitals, health and correctional facilities, home health care, clinics, long-term care and hospices, paramedic and emergency medical services including services provided by firefighters and other emergency responders, homeless shelters, labs, drug treatment centers, coroners' and medical examiners' offices and mortuaries, and police officers who in the course of their duties might transport confirmed or suspected infectious people. Dental practices are not covered if they meet three criteria: procedures aren't performed on confirmed or suspected ATD cases, a screening procedure consistent with CDC guidelines to determine the risk of exposure is used to assess patients before services are performed, and dental procedures aren't performed on anyone who has been screened out unless a licensed physician clears that person as not being an exposure risk.

The Initial Statement of Reasons explaining the regulation is available here. The statement says no federal OSHA standard comprehensively addresses occupational exposure to ATDs. The regulation contains a section addressing its equivalency to the OSHA respiratory protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134.

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