Engineering controls are the most effective controls an employer can use to protect employees. The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) provide a list of suggested engineering controls in Recommendations for Protecting Workers from Exposure to Bacillus anthracis in Work Sites Where Mail Is Handled or Processed.
Prudent Work Practices:
- Follow OSHA's recommendations for green zone workplaces for workers who open mail or respond to suspicious envelopes or packages.
- Develop strategies to limit the number of persons working at or near areas where airborne particles may be generated (e.g., mail-sorting machinery, places where mailbags are unloaded or emptied).
- Restrict the number of non-essential personnel (e.g., contractors, visitors, etc.) entering areas where airborne particles may be generated.
- Avoid practices that generate dust, such as dry sweeping, dusting, and using compressed air to clean machinery. Areas should be wet-cleaned or vacuumed with an industrial vacuum cleaner equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Conventional home or industrial vacuums should not be used since these vacuums may further disperse possible anthrax spores.
- Instruct employees to wash hands regularly with soap and water. At a minimum, hands should be washed when gloves are removed, before eating, and at the end of a shift.
- Establish procedures in the emergency plan for employees to report possible exposure and contact authorities:
- Contact supervisor
- Notify local police and local FBI
- Give workers information and training on:
- Modes of anthrax transmission;
- Signs and symptoms of anthrax infection;
- Emergency procedures to deal with possible contamination;
- Protective clothing to minimize skin exposure;
- Care for abrasions that might provide an infection route.
- Impermeable gloves such as nitrile or vinyl.
- Properly fitted, NIOSH-certified filtering facepiece (N95 or greater). See Appendix D of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard for information about the use of respirators when such use is voluntary. 29 CFR 1910.134 Appendix D
- Respirators equipped with P-type filters in areas where oil mist from machinery is present should be considered to ensure filter effectiveness.
- OSHA Fact Sheet and References on Worker Health and Safety
- Inspection Procedures for the Respiratory Protection Standard. (See discussions on voluntary use throughout this document)
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