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OSHA tells employers to protect workers from Zika virus

New Jersey residents may have read in the news that the mosquito-borne Zika virus has been found in the United States. Since cases have been confirmed in the U.S., employers who manage outdoor jobs have been advised to take actions to prevent the spread of Zika in their employees.

Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued interim guidance explaining how employers can protect outdoor workers from the Zika virus. OSHA advises employers to let their employees know about Zika risks and provide their employees with insect repellent. Employers have also been advised to provide their employees with proper clothing that can serve as a protective barrier from mosquitoes. Sources of standing water should be eliminated so that work sites do not attract mosquitoes.

The effects of contracting the Zika virus can be severe for a woman who is pregnant or about to become pregnant. OSHA advised employers to allow pregnant female employees to do indoor tasks when possible. Employers should also consider allowing male workers to do indoor tasks if they have a girlfriend or wife who is pregnant or could become pregnant. If a worker develops any symptoms of Zika, OSHA says that prompt medical attention should be sought.

Even if a mosquito bite at work is not a result of employer negligence, a worker who becomes ill from a mosquito bite can still file a workers' compensation claim. An attorney may be able to help such a victim pursue compensation for health care costs and lost wages.

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