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Can I get MRSA from someone at work?
A MRSA skin abscess on a man's knee
MRSA is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection (e.g., towels, used bandages).

MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere on the body. However, several factors make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted. These factors, which NIOSH has referred to as the 5 C's, are as follows:
  • Athletic uniforms hanging in a row over locker room benchesCrowding

  • Frequent skin-to-skin Contact

  • Compromised skin (i.e., cuts or abrasions)

  • Contaminated items and surfaces

  • Lack of Cleanliness

Locations where the 5 C's are common include schools, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities, and day care centers.

If I have MRSA, can I go to work?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unless directed by a healthcare provider, employees with MRSA infections should not be routinely excluded from going to work.
  • Three construction workers around an insulated containerExclusion from work should be reserved for those with wound drainage ("pus") that cannot be covered and contained with a clean, dry bandage and for those who cannot maintain good hygiene practices.

  • Workers with active infections should be excluded from activities where skin-to-skin contact with the affected skin area is likely to occur until their infections are healed.

What should I do if I think I have a MRSA infection?
Health care providers talking to a patientSee your healthcare provider and follow their advice about returning to work.

If I have a MRSA skin infection, what should I do to prevent the
spread of MRSA at work and at home?

Applying a clean bandage to the upper armYou can prevent spreading MRSA skin infections to others by following these steps:
  • Cover your wound. Keep areas of the skin affected by MRSA covered. Keep wounds that are draining or have pus covered with clean, dry bandages. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain MRSA, so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages or tape can be discarded with the regular trash.

  • Washing hands with soapClean your hands. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.

  • Do not share personal items. Avoid sharing personal items such as uniforms, personal protective equipment, clothing, towels, washcloths or razors that may have had contact with the infected wound or bandage.

  • Do not share personal items Do not touch other persons cuts or bandages.

  • Talk to your doctor. Tell any healthcare providers who treat you that you have or had a MRSA skin infection.

What should I do if I suspect that my uniform, clothing, personal protective equipment or workstation has become contaminated with MRSA?
  • Commericial laundry worker unloading a washing machine into a laundry cartWash soiled uniforms, clothing, sheets and towels with water and laundry detergent. This helps kill bacteria in clothing. Dry clothes completely in a hot dryer, rather than air-drying.

  • Cleaning contaminated equipment and surfaces with detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants is effective at removing MRSA from the environment. The hands of a man cleaning an air sampling deviceBecause cleaners and disinfectants can be irritating and exposure has been associated with health problems, such as asthma, it is important to read the instruction labels on all cleaners to make sure they are used safely and appropriately. Where disinfection is concerned, more is not necessarily better.

    Additional information on appropriate use of cleaners and disinfectants can be found in the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) "10 Step Guide to Green Cleaning Implementation". Environmental cleaners and disinfectants should not be used to treat infections. The EPA provides a list of selected EPA-registered disinfectants effective against MRSA.

What can my boss (employer) do to prevent the
spread of MRSA at the workplace?

As part of a comprehensive Safety and Health Management System, your employer can take steps to decrease or minimize the spread of MRSA at the workplace. Some steps are:
  • A man bends over while cleaning an officePlace importance on worker safety and health protection in the workplace.

  • Ensure the availability of adequate facilities and supplies that encourage workers to practice good hygiene.

  • Ensure that routine housekeeping in the workplace is followed.

  • Ensure that contaminated equipment and surfaces are cleaned with detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants.

Need more information?
View the complete CDC/NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) Workplace Safety and Health Topic page: MRSA and the Workplace.

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