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News Brief
March 23, 2009
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA and American Biological Safety Association Alliance addresses biological safety hazards

WASHINGTON -- Four new fact sheets on biological safety issues, including "Select Agent Diseases" and "Zoonotic Diseases," were developed by the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) through a recently renewed Alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The "Select Agent Diseases" fact sheet is a reference tool for laboratory employees that lists symptoms, transmission methods and treatments for common bacteria and viruses that have the potential to pose a major threat to public health and safety, such as anthrax and bubonic plague. Commonly encountered diseases found in animals but transmittable to humans are referenced in the "Zoonotic Diseases" fact sheet. It provides laboratory employees with symptoms, incubation periods and treatments for bacteria such as salmonella.

"We are pleased to continue our Alliance with ABSA as we develop relevant information for those working in the biological sciences field," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Donald G. Shalhoub. "As these professionals research ways to treat and prevent common and uncommon diseases affecting the American public, our Alliance will work collaboratively to protect workers' safety and health while on the job."

To advance the goal of developing information on the recognition and prevention of biological safety hazards, ABSA members provide technical input for OSHA's Safety and Health Topics pages on issues such as Avian flu, mold and fungi, and smallpox. ABSA members assisted in updating OSHA's Hospital eTool and reviewed modules on bloodborne pathogens, laboratory and healthcare-wide hazards.

"ABSA is honored to continue the Alliance with OSHA. The Alliance has been a valuable resource to ABSA members and biosafety professionals in promoting safety in biological research laboratories," said Edward J. Stygar, III, ABSA executive director. "ABSA looks forward to working on future projects that promote safety in the laboratory environment."

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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