Guidance for Protecting Employees from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a release on April 22 providing employers guidance for protecting workers from occupational exposure to the Zika virus. The Zika virus continues to spread through Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean, including U.S. territories. According to the guidance, “Some U.S. states have mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus, and travel-associated Zika virus infections in U.S. states may result in local spread of the virus.”

In an effort to control and prevent occupational exposure to Zika virus, the CDC and OSHA offer recommendations for employers with employees who may be at the greatest risk, such as outdoor workers, health care and laboratory workers, mosquito control workers, and business travelers.

Members frequently request guidance when dealing with employees who travel on business to Zika-affected areas. On this subject, CDC and OSHA recommend employers:

  • Consider allowing flexibility in required travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission;
  • Consider delaying travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission, especially for workers who are or may become pregnant or whose sexual partners may become pregnant; and
  • Pregnant women in any trimester should not travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission.

For more information related to employer recommended action, or for updates, please see the Guidance, visit cdc.gov/zika, or contact your MSEC representative.