Healthcare Workers In Peril: Preparing To Protect Worker Health And Safety During Pandemic Influenza – A Union Survey Report

Source: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), April 16, 2009

An influenza pandemic is projected to have a global impact requiring a sustained, largescale
response from the healthcare community to provide care to sick patients. Healthcare workers will be at very high risk of becoming infected when caring for patients with pandemic flu unless adequate health and safety measures are in place, in advance of the pandemic, that will protect them. There is no existing comprehensive federal OSHA standard with mandatory and enforceable provisions that require planning and preparation designed to protect healthcare workers from exposures to pandemic influenza. Nevertheless, it is essential that workplaces plan and prepare for safety and health issues before the flu arrives.

In an effort to assess the extent of employer efforts in planning adequate safety and health measures for healthcare workers, a group of unions developed a “pandemic flu preparedness survey” to assess the level of preparedness on a facility basis. The survey was distributed to union leaders across the country who represent healthcare workers in unionized facilities. One hundred four (104) facility surveys were collected by six unions in fourteen states.

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