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March 17, 2011
NIOSH Update:

Expanded NIOSH Seasonal Influenza Web Page Provides Easy Access to Guidance, Highlights Research

Contact: Fred Blosser, (202) 245-0645

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today announced that it has posted an expanded and reorganized web page on protecting workers from seasonal influenza on the job. The page is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/flu/guidance.html.

The expanded page is designed to:

  • Provide a centralized web portal to current guidelines and recommendations for reducing workers’ risks for seasonal influenza infection, notably the authoritative guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This will save users time, resources, and guesswork in finding useful and reliable information.

  • Highlight NIOSH research and health surveillance activities that advance new knowledge, methods, procedures, practices, and technologies for preventing seasonal influenza in the workplace. These areas include research to better understand the transmission of the flu virus, engineering infection controls, personal protective technologies, and health surveillance of seasonal flu.

  • Note the availability of the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Program for requests to evaluate occupational hazards from influenza, and provide access for making such requests. The Health Hazard Evaluation Program is a component of NIOSH’s robust research to better understand and prevent seasonal flu transmission. The Health Hazard Evaluation Program has a particular focus on industries and occupational settings in which workers have frequent contact with sick individuals or the general public.

“Seasonal flu is a recurrent, unwelcome, and preventable illness,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We are pleased to expand our web page to help employers and workers more easily find practical guidance for reducing the risk of transmission and infection on the job. We are also pleased to highlight the research partnerships from which we will gain new knowledge for better designing and directing interventions against seasonal flu in the workplace.”

Dr. Howard added, “There are other dividends from this research as well. The more we know in general about the ways in which the flu virus may be transmitted, and about the capabilities of different technologies designed to reduce the risk of transmission or infection, the better prepared we will be for new and potentially even more virulent strains of flu.”

In the U.S., the annual direct costs of seasonal influenza, including hospitalization, doctors' office visits, medications, and other costs, are estimated at $4.6 billion. Additionally, up to 111 million workdays are lost because of influenza, at an estimated $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injury and illness. It was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1971 and observes its 40th Anniversary this year. More information about NIOSH can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh.

 
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