In order to reduce the risk of Lyme disease in outdoor workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a Hazard Information Bulletin that advises employers how to implement an effective protection program.
If undiagnosed and untreated, Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that affected more than 16,000 people in 1998, may cause chronic arthritis, heart disease, and/or neurologic disorders. However, if recognized early, Lyme disease can, in most cases, be successfully treated with standard antibiotic regimens.
The areas in the United States with the highest risk for Lyme disease are in the northeast, from Massachusetts to Maryland; the north-central region including Wisconsin and Minnesota; and an area in northern California in the pacific-coastal region. Outdoor workers in occupations such as construction, landscaping, and forestry working in heavily wooded or grassy areas are at increased risk of exposure to Lyme disease bearing ticks.
The Hazard Information Bulletin recommends steps that workers should take to reduce the risk of Lyme disease. Workers can help prevent Lyme disease by avoiding tick habitats, wearing clothing that keeps ticks from reaching the skin, using insect repellants, and considering with their physician use of a protective vaccine. The Hazard Information Bulletin follows the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Hazard Information Bulletin is not a new standard or regulation, and it creates no legal obligations. It is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended for use by employers seeking to provide a safe and healthful workplace.
The bulletin and a fact sheet may be found at the OSHA web site (www.osha.gov). More detailed information regarding Lyme disease and its prevention may be found at the CDC web site (www.cdc.gov).
Source: OSHA Trade News Release, US Department of Labor Office of Public Affairs; Contact: Michael Fluharty, (202) 693-1999