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How can I prevent the spread of MRSA in my workplace?
Poster illustrating proper handwashingAs part of a comprehensive Safety and Health Management System, you can take steps to decrease or minimize the spread of MRSA at the workplace. Preventing the spread of MRSA in the workplace depends upon your type of workplace. Infection control is key to stopping MRSA spread in healthcare settings. Employees in other work settings should be encouraged to do the following to prevent MRSA spread in their work environment. Employees should be encouraged to practice good personal and hand hygiene, such as:
  • Technician washing handsKeep hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based sanitizer when soap and water is not immediately accessible

  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed

  • Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages

  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels, washcloths, razors, or clothes

Wash soiled sheets, towels and clothes in hot water with bleach and dry in a hot dryer.

Nurse talking to patientIf a wound appears to be infected, an employee should see a healthcare provider. Treatment may include draining the infection and the administration of antibiotics.







Should an employee with a MRSA infection work?
Doctor talking to womanAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unless directed by a healthcare provider, workers with MRSA infections should not be routinely excluded from going to work.
  • Exclusion 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.

  • Employees 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.

Occupational health professional listening to three production workersAdditionally, an employer may want to seek guidance from an occupational health care provider about how to reduce additional risks to both MRSA-infected and uninfected employees. This may be important in industries (for example: agri-business, construction, forestry/landcare, healthcare, food service) where an employee is at higher risk of sustaining a skin injury such as an abrasion, burn, cut, or puncture wound.




Will compliance with OSHA Standards improve protection of employees who may be exposed to MRSA in the workplace?
A fire fighter looking over multiple victimsCompliance with OSHA Standards will assist with improving the protection of employees who may be exposed to MRSA in the workplace. OSHA's Safety and Health Topics pages provide additional guidance to comply with standards. Below are some of the relevant provisions of OSHA standards of special importance.

Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials are covered under this standard. This includes those required to provide first aid services to other employees.

  • Universal precautions to help protect against infection shall be followed by those who must comply with this standard.
Yellow binder labeled Material Safety Data Sheets

Hazard Communication

Disinfectants and other cleaning products used to decontaminate surfaces may be considered hazardous chemicals under this standard.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Depending on the specific workplace situation, some personal protective equipment (PPE) may be needed as a barrier against the transmission of MRSA from an infected person to a non-infected employee. This may include, but is not limited to, the use of gloves, eye protection and facemasks (e.g., surgical masks).

Sign indicating protective clothing may be required

Recordkeeping

  • A hand of a man filling out the OSHA injury logAn employer is required to report and keep records of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses which are determined to be work-related.

  • An injury or illness is considered to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness.

Sanitation

This standard requires an employer to provide:

  • Food worker washing his handsHot and cold running water or tepid running water in each lavatory

  • Hand soap or similar cleansing agents

  • Individual hand towels or sections thereof, of cloth or paper, warm air blowers or clean individual sections of continuous cloth toweling, convenient to the lavatories

  • Individual clean towels to employees who use showers

Field Sanitation

This standard further requires toilet and handwashing facilities to be accessibly located and in close proximity to each other; and prohibits common drinking cups or dippers.



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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