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Disease Management and Work Comp - Part 2

Sunday, June 9, 2002 | 812 | 0 | min read

In our last article we explored the issues of tuberculosis in the work place. Getting more press time, meanwhile, are Hepatitis A, B and C, and AIDS.

Hepatitis A, B and C are viral infections that can damage the liver and can be dormant for decades. Among the most contagious and the most common blood-borne infection in the United States an estimated 1.8 percent of Americans have been infected with hepatitis according to government statistics. Of that number 15 percent will be immune. The 85 percent who do get the infection will not show symptoms but will carry the virus. Eighty percent of those will suffer liver damage inflammation and 20 percent will develop cirrhosis.

Hepatitis A is spread through food and feces. This disease would logically put food preparation workers and day-care employees handling dirty diapers at risk.

Hepatitis B is spread through bodily fluids, while Hepatitis C can only be spread there is a transfusion, or mixing, of blood.

Hepatitis B poses particular risk for employees in the healthcare, emergency and public safety workers fields; drug treatment center workers; staff members of institutions for the mentally impaired; and prison staff members.

Hepatitis C is a particular risk to laboratory workers, healthcare, emergency and public safety workers, and drug treatment center workers.

Atlanta-based Home Depot has been cited by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta for its proactive approach to employee education regarding blood borne disease, and has had a human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, education outreach program in place since 1991. Because of the high potential for cuts and injuries at Home Depot, the company saw any sort of blood-borne pathogen as an important safety and risk management issue.

The Center for Disease Control says ultimately most businesses will be affected by HIV in one way or another, and that the workplace is an effective place to educate employees and their families if the risk is to be managed.

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