July 16, 2020

NIOSH Definition of "Emergency Response Employees" Includes Firefighters, Funeral Service Practitioners

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided notice that it has defined “emergency response employees” in a document that includes a list of potentially life-threatening infectious diseases to which these workers may be exposed. The new definition describes emergency response employees, or EREs, as firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, funeral service practitioners, and other individuals who respond to emergencies in affected areas while on the job. The updated document, “Infectious Diseases and Circumstances Relevant to Notification of Emergency Response Employees,” includes existing guidelines that accompany the list and is available on NIOSH’s website.

NIOSH added COVID-19 to the list in March. The agency publishes the list and companion guidelines in accordance with the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, which addresses notification procedures and requirements for medical facilities regarding exposure of EREs to potentially life-threatening infectious diseases. NIOSH’s guidelines describe ways employees may be exposed to these diseases and how medical facilities should make determinations about exposures.