California Professional Firefighters

Adopted Cal/OSHA Standard Reduces Infectious Disease Risk

Thanks to a strong push from California Professional Firefighters and technical support from the IAFF, a new standard has been adopted that will reduce first responders' risk of exposure to infectious disease.

Prior to the passage of this standard, there was no mandate on employers to limit exposure to aerosol transmissible diseases (ATDs), which include tuberculosis, SARS and the H1N1 Swine Origin Influenza A virus.

The Cal-OSHA standard for ATDs is aimed at protecting firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, who are at high risk of exposure on the job.

Under the new standard, employers would be required to:

  • Provide respirators to employees who know or suspect that a patient has an ATD.
  • Assist with medical surveillance for employees who have occupational exposure to ATDs.
  • Provide annual training on the ATD exposure control plan.
  • Implement procedures for decontaminating vehicles and/or equipment exposed to ATDs.
  • Ensure that firefighters on EMS calls receive timely information and follow-up if they have treated or transported someone who was subsequently determined to have an ATD.

August 5, 2009 is the Cal-OSHA date when the standard will become enforceable, except for the rules on required vaccinations of susceptible health care workers and implementation of Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR), which will take effect September 1, 2010. CLICK HERE to read the text of the ATD standard.

CLICK HERE to read the article, "Another California Landmark -- ATD, Zoonotic Disease Protections Adopted" published in the Cal-OSHA Reporter.

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