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Coping with infectious disease in the workplace (healthcare and non-healthcare) has become a common challenge for safety professionals in recent years. To manage this risk and the risk communication challenges associated with it, safety professionals need basic information on the principles of infectious disease transmission for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include: To help recognize when professional infection control assistance is needed. To assist their risk communication efforts when media focus has resulted in hysteria or concern in the absence of risk. To provide a foundational understanding of infectious disease transmission in support of planning for a public health emergency.
Following years of planning and questioning pandemic flu preparation, 2009 provided the impetus to force several specific industries to refocus and increase planning. The seasonal flu comes every year with vaccines and reminders to wash hands, cough or sneeze into our elbow and stay home if we are sick. However, the attention and tracking that occurred with the H1N1 influenza heightened our awareness and concern to impact organizations in a variety of ways.
The challenge is determining the potential impact or risk to the organization. The seasonal flu has set a level of risk and therefore preventive measures to implement. The CDC estimates that seasonal flu was the cause of an average of 36,000 deaths from the 1990-1991 flu season to the 1998-1999 flu season (CDC, 2009a) H1N1 influenza outbreaks was unknown. The severity, timing and numbers of persons to be impacted were uncertain. The fall/winter H1N1 2009 influenza epidemic appeared to be impacting more communities than the spring/summer H1N1 influenza season. CDC, 2009, Interim) How does an organization plan for such an unknown impact?In the safety and industrial hygiene arena, prevention starts with engineering the hazard out of the activity. The next step is to implement administrative controls to protect the employee. Finally, when the first two steps are not possible or sufficient, personal protective equipment is provided as a barrier between the employee and the hazard. The primary personal protective equipment against H1N1 is a respirator.
Respiratory protection programs have protected employees from a wide variety of airborne contaminants. These predominantly were identifiable, had exposure limitations, and were able to be quantified. This changed in the H1N1/Pandemic Flu environment. This paper will predominantly focus on the impact H1N1/Pandemic Flu can have on a respiratory protection program as well as ideas to manage the impact.
Abstract As commerce, particularly in the petroleum industry, increases in the developing countries of the African continent, so too does the risk of exposure to highly infectious endemic diseases. Such diseases include avian/swine flu, the viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHF), and multiple drug resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB) to name but a few. Although many countries, through their own Departments of Health, have adopted protocols to report and manage such illnesses, there are limited, if any, guidelines/procedures/vehicles to transport infected patients to centers of medical excellence (COME). Consequently, as these conditions are time-sensitive and many patients never receive adequate medical care, the absence of protocol may violate our duty of care. From our own experience we have learned that medical transport of contagious/infected cases requires complete cooperation and authorization by all government officials responsible for Public Health in the countries concerned as well as in the countries where aircraft would refuel or fly over to reach their final destination. During the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, we developed innovative safety measures to protect our medical teams/flight crews from contamination during medical evacuation/transport. Those measures included the design, in accordance with International Health Authority Guidelines (WHO, CDC), and implementation, of a compact, portable isolation unit (PIU), ideal for regional ground/air travel. More recently, we have incorporated a disposable biological containment unit (BCU) into our comprehensive protocols which is designed for a Gulfstream III, ideal for trans-ocean/continental travel. Both the PIU and BCU enhance our ability to medically transport patients. We have demonstrated that: (1) efficient movement of the sick/infected patients has a positive impact on their outcome and (2) the creation and credentialing of a global network of preferred providers willing and able to accept such patients facilitates the transfer to the nearest COME rather than repatriations which may not always be practical or realistic.
Facilitator: Aruna Vadgama, RN, MPA, COHN-S, BCSP, BCPE, CPHQ-
Abstract Objectives/Scope This session will review the Ebola outbreak from the viewpoint of an onshore and offshore petroleum operator. It will provide insight into the real threats the outbreak presented by looking past the media hype and diving into the real organisational effects of the outbreak. The presenter will show how, though contained to parts of West Africa, the Ebola crisis established a new model for medical risk management that can be applied the world over. Methods, Procedures, Process The presenter was on the ground in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak assisting various organisations, including the petroleum industry, to navigate the medical risks while helping to ensure minimal disruption to employee health or operations. Through this first-hand experience, the presenter will review the key takeaways from the outbreak to highlight how major infectious diseases, such as Ebola, cannot always be easily managed through traditional HSE protocols. It will establish key variables of medical risk and discuss how HSE and medical management must be part of every company's overall operational structure. Results, Observations, Conclusions The Ebola outbreak caused major disruptions to all industries operating in or around West Africa. Earlier, there were confusion and grave misconceptions about the extent of the outbreak which led to many petroleum operators unprepared for how to best manage the medical threats to their employees. Traditional models of HSE and infectious disease management did not easily apply to the developing threats. As organisations were caught off guard, they were forced to adapt to a rapidly changing situation as the outbreak spread. This medical incident quickly became a threat to all operations as basic infrastructure degraded, resources became unreliable and security threats increased. Those organisations who took a preventive and holistic approach to HSE management were better able to respond and ensure minimal impact to their operations. Novel/Additive Information The Ebola crisis of 2014 was one of the worst infectious disease outbreaks in recent history. It also occurred in a region with endemic medical risks and poor medical infrastructure. These two factors make it an important learning exercise for the global petroleum community. The presenter's first-hand experience will provide substantial insight into the long-term effects of the Ebola crisis and how organisations can learn from this event and benefit from implementing their own mitigation strategies.