New York State Urged to Do More to Protect Hospital Workers and Public Against Ebola

BY Ken Lovett /


Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 9:53 AM

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health has sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo calling for set training and standards to deal with a potential outbreak of the Ebola virus in New York.

The union-backed nonprofit, which is dedicated to workplace safety, said any training needs to include airport workers and educational staff to be truly effective.

NYCOSH thanked Cuomo for taking the necessary steps toward creating an Ebola preparedness plan for the state, but said more specifics are needed.

“While we believe that training at-risk workers is critical to ensuring the state’s preparedness for Ebola, the details of both the training curriculum and implementation remain unclear and will greatly impact the plan’s success and effectiveness,” the group wrote.

Any plan, the letter states, must include Ebola awareness training, a review of bloodborne pathogen standard and workplace instruction documents, and safe work practices, including material, property, and personal decontamination.

It must also include specifics standards about personal protective equipment and safe work practice and training that is “hands-on.”

“For an Ebola preparedness plan to be effective, it must include these critical components of worker education and hands-on training, created master trainers in New York State, and be properly funded to ensure the plan’s implementation,” the group wrote.

NYCOSH thanked Cuomo for taking the necessary steps toward creating an Ebola preparedness plan for the state.

The training, the organization says, should be standardized, using the most recently guidelines for frontline healthcare workers created by the Centers for Disease Control, with input from Doctors Without Borders.

NYCOSH also calls for funding to ensure each hospital can effectively implement the program, which should be run by the state Department of Health.

“In addition to healthcare workers, all workers who are at risk of potential contact with infectious persons in the course of fulfilling their job duties—including air and mass transit workers, airport workers, educational staff, etc.—should receive basic Ebola information regarding the nature of the virus, modes of transmission, risk factors, symptoms, treatment, infection control and worker protection measures, and workplace policies,” the letter states.

“Information sharing can take the form of posters, handouts, and safety or paycheck informational meetings.”