Is Your Employer Protecting You From Zika Virus?

Zika VirusIn a state with sunny weather year round, many Florida workers spend the majority of their day outdoors. Whether you work construction, in agriculture, or you drive a delivery truck, if you work outside your employer is required to provide you with proper safety gear and equipment to protect against outdoor threats.

Although Floridians are no strangers to the risks of mosquito-borne diseases, the Zika virus is a relatively new threat.

Zika virus in FloridaRecently, the Miami Herald reported an increase in mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus in southern Florida. Because the Zika threat is still evolving, some employers may be ill-equipped to help their workers protect against the virus while on the job.

If you have been injured at work, you need the help and advice of an experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyer. Don’t compromise your legal rights by foregoing the help you deserve.

What Is Zika Virus?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that is primarily transmitted through a mosquito bite, however, it can also be spread through sexual intercourse.

The WHO also reports that Zika might be transmissible through blood transfusion and perhaps other means. Although most Americans are just hearing about Zika virus now, the disease has been around since 1947.

People who contract Zika virus usually experience only mild symptoms, such as a rash, high fever, joint pain, and a headache. In most people, these symptoms resolve within a few days.

However, there is significant research that shows a strong correlation between Zika infection in pregnant women and neurological complications in their unborn babies.

One of the most devastating complications is microcephaly, which causes the brain to develop improperly. Children born with microcephaly, or those who develop it as infants, often have an abnormally small head, along with developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, poor motor function, speech problems, seizures, and abnormal facial features.

OSHA Safety Tips For Guarding Against Zika

As the Zika threat intensifies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new recommendations for employers who employ outside workers.

Under current OSHA rules, employers are already required to comply with regulations that pertain specifically to bloodborne pathogen exposure.

However, new recommendations ask employers to take the following Zika-specific measures:

  • Educate workers about the risks of Zika exposure.
  • Train workers how to protect themselves against Zika virus.
  • Provide workers with protective clothing, such as long sleeves, long pants, and hats with mosquito netting.
  • Remove standing water that accumulates in cans, bottles, buckets, stacks of tires, and barrels, as this attracts mosquitoes.

Consider reassigning pregnant workers and workers who may become pregnant to positions that reduce their risk of Zika exposure. Employers should also consider reassigning males whose sexual partners are pregnant or who may become pregnant.

If you are an outdoor worker in Florida, it’s important to protect yourself against exposure to Zika virus. OSHA recommends wearing insect repellent that contains an EPA-registered active ingredient. According to OSHA, insect repellent is the best way to prevent being bitten by a Zika-carrying mosquito.

You can learn more about insect repellent by visiting the website of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Talk To A Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

If you have been hurt at work in Florida, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Get in touch with a knowledgeable Florida workers’ compensation lawyer today to discuss the next steps in your case.

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