Injuries and Illness

Staph/MRSA in the Workplace: An Epidemiologist Speaks

What answers does a CDC official have for your specific questions about staph and MRSA? Listen in on BLR’s special February 13 audio conference and find out.

Yesterday’s Advisor began a discussion of the staph problem currently affecting American workplaces.

Though largely confined to healthcare facilities, studies show that staph transmission does appear to be increasing in other parts of the community. There have been, for example, several highly publicized school closings after students fell ill with the disease. And this has led to general anxiety about any situation in which people closely share a common space, including workplaces.

To deal with the fear, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has intensively investigated recent staph outbreaks. Officials looked at how the illness spread, and what could reasonably have been done to prevent that spread. Here’s some of what they had to say.


The primary means of staph transmission is skin-to-skin contact. The bacteria live in cuts, abrasions, or sores, and can easily be passed when an employee with a open skin injury touches a co-worker. A secondary infection vehicle is any bandage or dressing used by an injured worker. The bacteria also can be transmitted through shared items, such as towels or razors.

Learn more about staph and MRSA in BLR’s 90-minute February 13 audio conference. Can’t attend? Preorder the CD. Learn more.

The preventative steps recommended are, for the most part, common sense. They center on these four points:

–Requiring regular hand washing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based sanitizer.
–Requiring all cuts and bruises to be covered with clean, dry bandages
–Proper disposal of all bandages and dressings
–Banning the sharing of personal items

Workers being treated for staph should also be encouraged to take their entire prescribed dose of antibiotics, even if it appears the infection has cleared up before all the meds have been used. Staph has a notorious reputation for coming back.

Legal Pitfalls for Employers

While these steps seem simple, the fact that jobsites are regulated communities adds complications if staph appears in the workplace.

“An employer with a worker who self-discloses that he or she has a MRSA infection needs to be mindful of several potential legal pitfalls,” notes an advisory from the law firm Littler Mendelson, P.C. “The employee may well be entitled to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act … be entitled to FMLA leave … and [there may be] potential HIPAA obligations, particularly as an employer takes steps to disinfect and clean the workplace,” Littler attorneys say.

Others have brought up further employer concerns about staph, including how best to communicate about it to employees, and how best to plan for an outbreak.

All BLR audio conferences are presented satisfaction assured, or you get a full refund. Read more about this one on staph and MRSA.

For these reasons, BLR will conduct a special 90-minute, February 13 audio conference, titled, Are You Ready for a ‘Superbug’? What the Latest Staph Scare Means for You and Your Employees.

The presenter, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will discuss what staph infections, including MRSA, are, and how they can affect your workplace. He’ll talk about what you can do to prevent spread of the disease, when it’s proper to send infected employees home on leave, and when and how to allow them back to work with minimal hazard to your workforce.

As usual with BLR audio conferences, the presentation will be followed by an extensive Q&A session with your specific e-mailed or phoned-in questions answered. One fee covers all the staff you can fit around a conference phone, and your satisfaction with the session is fully assured, or your fee is refunded in full.

If you can’t attend on February 13, be sure to preorder the conference CD.

As it’s likely that you’re going to get asked about staph, here’s a chance for you to get the answers. We recommend you take advantage of this opportunity.

Click here for more information, to register, or to preorder the CD.