The California Department of Public Health reports that 586 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in the San Diego area as of March 23. They say 401 people have been admitted to hospitals, and 20 have succumbed to the disease. Monterey and Los Angeles are included in other affected areas. Hepatitis A — a disease covered by the workers’ compensation system — is similar to Hepatitis B and C in as far as it is an infection of the liver and highly contagious.
CDPH says the Hepatitis A virus is spread by any contact with fecal matter of an infected person — even minuscule size contaminants. The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health says construction workers are particularly vulnerable because the portable toilets on work sites are often used by homeless people who could also be using illicit drugs. Cal/OSHA urges employers to provide facilities at which workers can wash their hands with soap and water frequently, especially after every time they use the toilet.
Employers must ensure that their employees have workplaces that are free of known hazards, and this warning serves as a notice of a hazard that employers must address. In addition to clean workplaces and proper washing facilities, Cal/OSHA says other preventative measures must be taken to prevent the spreading of this disease that could be fatal. One of the suggested precautionary methods is a vaccination program for all workers in the affected areas.
California workers may be wise to take these warnings seriously, as contracting Hepatitis A could have devastating consequences. When workers carry such a contagious disease to their homes, it will spread even faster. Fortunately, any medical expenses related to an occupational disease can be claimed in the form of workers’ compensation benefits, which might also include wage replacement. An experienced attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance to obtain maximum benefits.
Source: safety.blr.com, “First step in hepatitis A protection — Keep it clean“, April 11, 2018