Safe at Home

04.25.2016

By Joan E. Collier

Exposure to Zika, a mosquito-borne and sexually-transmitted virus that causes the birth defect microcephaly and other neurological disorders, currently is occurring exclusively outside U.S. borders. However, while we may be safe at home in the continental U.S., the dangers of exposure present themselves as we travel.

The latest stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show:

Of the 388 cases, 84 were reported in Florida, 60 New York, and 29 in California.

The numbers are different (and more troubling) in U.S. Territories:

Of the 500 cases, 474 were reported in Puerto Rico, 14 in American Samoa, and 12 in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To their credit, the CDC, OSHA, NIOSH, and other governmental agencies have been proactive in crafting and issuing safety guidelines to prevent or minimize exposure.

The newest recommendations include a section entitled “General Guidance for Employers of Workers with Suspected or Confirmed Zika.” Along with the basic “know what you’re dealing with here,” are several suggestions that could help employers avoid some legal problems:

By making common-sense concessions regarding who travels where, and by keeping some employees safe at home, businesses may be able to “inoculate" themselves against pesky Zika-borne workers' compensation claims.

(See more Work Comp Nation blogs here.)

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