Potential Airborne Infectious Diseases Standard

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is currently reviewing a possible OSHA standard on airborne infectious diseases. The standard, which is in the pre-rule stage, seeks to protect employees that work in medical facilities, correctional facilities, emergency response, homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and mortuaries from respiratory diseases like chickenpox, measles, shingles, rubeola, severe acute respiratory syndrome, pandemic influenza, and tuberculosis. These diseases are transmitted through a variety of exposure routes and are spread by coughing, sneezing, etc.

The standard may also apply to laboratories which handle materials that may be a source of pathogens.

The standard would help ensure that employers develop and implement a comprehensive infection control program to help contain the spread of these diseases, much like the existing Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control requirement.