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Prevention and Controls

Anthrax exposures that result from a criminal or terrorist act are more difficult for unsuspecting employers to prevent and control. Nevertheless, OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have developed recommendations to address the exposures resulting from contaminated mail and packages:

  • Workplace Response to Anthrax Threat: OSHA Recommendations for Handling Mail. OSHA.
  • Protect Your Workplace: Learn All About Suspicious Packages. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), (September 20, 2006). Describes the new poster developed through the joint efforts of four federal agencies—the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the U.S. Postal Service and its Postal Inspection Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the FBI.
    • Suspicious Letters or Packages (PDF). U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Poster. Advises that if you receive a suspicious letter or package:
      • Stop. Don't handle.
      • Isolate it immediately.
      • Don't open, smell or taste.
      • Activate your emergency action plan. Notify a supervisor.
    • Distributable Materials. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). Download and print the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "Protect Your Workplace" posters and the "Protect Your Workplace" brochure.

The methods for preventing and controlling anthrax exposure and infection vary by workplace.

Animal Handlers

Employers in animal handling occupations who may anticipate exposure may find the following useful.

  • Animal Health - Infectious: Bacteria. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Provides links to anthrax studies in livestock populations.
Healthcare and Emergency Responders

For health care employers and emergency responders, there is a larger body of response planning information. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Hospital Association (AHA), Department of Defense (DoD), and OSHA have several resources about how hospitals can plan and prepare for terrorist events:

  • The AHA's Hospital Readiness Efforts. American Hospital Association (AHA). Describes AHA position on the readiness issue and lists chemical and biological agents that are most likely to be used in an attack.
  • Hospital Preparedness for Mass Casualties (PDF). American Hospital Association (AHA), (August 2000). Defines mass casualty incidents as incidents which overwhelm the resources of individual hospitals. Equally important, a mass casualty incident is likely to impose a sustained demand for health services rather than the short, intense peak customary with many smaller scale disasters adding a new dimension and many new issues to preparedness planning for hospitals.
  • Hospitals and Community Emergency Response. OSHA Publication 3152, (1997). Identifies elements of a Hospital Emergency Response Plan, basic employee training in emergency response, selecting PPE, respirators, and decontaminating patients.
Local Emergency Responders

Local Emergency Responders also have an important role in recognizing and responding to terrorist events. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and OSHA provide several resources that address readiness and response by emergency responders:

  • National Domestic Preparedness Consortium. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Identifies, develop, tests, and delivers training to state and local emergency responders. The NDPC membership includes Grants & Training's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT), Louisiana State University (LSU), Texas A&M University (TEEX), and the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site (NTS).
  • Preparation & Planning. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lists general resources for personal preparedness, business and healthcare preparedness, state, local, national and legal preparedness, and links to specific types of emergencies such as:
    • Anthrax: Preparedness. Identifies communication resources, including the First Hours Program, response planning, scenarios and modeling.
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.

In the event that anthrax is released, controls such as personal protective equipment (e.g., respirators) and decontamination will be needed to limit exposure and prevent secondary infection. You can find additional technical information in the following resources:


*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

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