OSHA Urges Employers to Protect Workers from Exposure to Measles

Published June 27, 2019

OSHA recently published a new web page to provide information about preventing and reducing workers' exposure to measles as well as information on vaccination and treatment. According to OSHA, workers in childcare and healthcare, laboratories, and environmental services and those who travel abroad have the greatest risk of exposure and infection. The agency stresses that workers may be exposed to measles whenever the virus is circulating in their community or when performing work in affected areas. Workers may also be exposed if they come into contact with infected individuals who arrive in the United States from abroad. CDC believes that the outbreaks occurring in the U.S. may be linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries where large outbreaks are occurring.

OSHA’s website states that workers who have not received the measles vaccine or who have not had the disease can get measles if they are exposed.

“According to the CDC, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and highly effective,” the agency says. “The best way to prevent workers from getting measles on the job is to encourage workers at risk of exposure to get the MMR vaccine.”

OSHA’s new page also provides general guidance for workers and employers of workers who may be exposed to measles as well as specific guidance for protecting workers who may be at increased exposure risk. Information about measles that may aid in the recognition and assessment of infection risk is also available. The agency provides additional information about standards, letters of interpretation, directives, and other requirements that may apply in the event of possible worker exposure to measles. 

This year, 1,077 individual cases of measles have been reported in the U.S. as of June 20. According to CDC, this is the greatest number of cases since 1992. At a more local level, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has recorded 609 confirmed cases of measles in the city since September. In March, officials in New York’s Rockland County declared a state of emergency related to the measles outbreak. The declaration barred from public places anyone who was under age 18 and unvaccinated against the measles. A global measles outbreak notice published this month by CDC cautions all international travelers to ensure that they are fully protected against measles before leaving the U.S. More information about measles is available on CDC’s website.