Ebola in the United States: Are Healthcare Workers the Only Employees at Risk?


With at least two people diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Texas, we are faced with a critical national discussion about healthcare worker safety. The first case was Nina Pham, a 26 year-old nurse who was infected while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient to die of complications from the disease in the US. And while the root cause of Pham's infection is theorized to be an accidental breach in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocol, workers in the medical field are on high alert. As the CDC, facilities and administrators place a renewed focus on the careful adherence to procedure the developments have resulted in an important question across industries: just how concerned should you be about the impact of Ebola on your business?

It's important for companies to keep the risks associated with this disease in perspective, but increased attention presents an opportunity to enhance organizational preparedness. HUB International's latest bulletin, Ebola Concerns in the Workplace, provides background information, tips and some potential legal implications for business leaders in the wake of the outbreak.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Business Travel - Employers may have a legal obligation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in the United States, or the Canada Labour Code, to protect the health of employees traveling to Ebola risk areas.
  • Legal Implications - Employers should fully document the basis for any policy decisions, and use reasonable care to ensure that workers are treated fairly with their privacy rights respected.
  • Special Consideration for Healthcare Organizations - Proper infection control, sterilization measures and patient isolation protocols must be followed. Guidelines for a wide variety of safety measures referenced.

As developments unfold, HUB International's Crisis Management Center offers resources for staying alert and prepared. While no one can predict the future course of the Ebola outbreak with certainty, a lack of information is a completely avoidable catastrophe.