Injuries and Illness

How Healthy Is your Communicable Diseases Policy?

Yesterday we looked at the continuing threat posed by tuberculosis (TB), the occupations most at risk of infection, and some steps you can take to help prevent the spread of this disease in your workplace. Today we’ll look at policies you can implement to protect your workers against all communicable diseases.

While TB is one of the better-known health threats, it is just one of many dangerous communicable diseases that could crop up among your workforce. These include:


  • Avian flu

  • MRSA

  • Hepatitis A

  • Influenza

  • Measles

  • Meningitis

  • Mumps

  • Typhoid fever

  • Plague

  • SARS

Is your communicable diseases policy effective? Do you even have one? If not, we do, and it’s already written and ready to use, along with every other safety policy you’re likely to need, in BLR’s Essential Safety Policies. Examine it at no cost and with no obligation to purchase. Get details here.

It is essential that you have a plan in place to deal with the possible appearance of any of these diseases in your workplace. The BLR publication Essential Safety Policies recommends that you incorporate the following procedures into a policy or into your employee handbook:

  • The company has established procedures to follow when employees come into contact with another employee or customer (ill or deceased) who has a communicable disease (tuberculosis, hepatitis, meningitis, etc.).

  • Any employee who is exposed to a communicable disease or becomes aware of another employee who may have been exposed to a communicable disease while at work will immediately contact his or her supervisor. The company-authorized occupational healthcare provider will coordinate all treatment of those employees who are exposed at work to a communicable disease.

  • If hospitalization is required, the employee will be instructed by the company to go to medical facilities authorized by the healthcare provider.

  • When a period of convalescence and/or isolation is required due to an exposure to a communicable disease, the employee will be on sick leave in accordance with the company’s workers’ compensation policy.

  • The employee will complete and submit a report to Human Resources that includes the following information:

    • The circumstances concerning the encounter, including the known or suspected nature of the disease

    • The name and address of the infected person

    • The name, address, and telephone number of the physician who is attending the infected person, if known

    • The names and employee numbers of all employees who have come in contact with the person suspected of being infected with a communicable disease

    • Any recommendations, diagnosis, and/or treatment given by the company-authorized occupational healthcare provider

  • The company-authorized occupational healthcare provider will:

    • Coordinate treatment of those employees who have been exposed to the communicable disease.

    • Receive information regarding persons suspected of having a communicable disease and verify that information with the appropriate medical facility and/or authority.

    • Notify the Human Resources department of any information obtained from the various medical facilities and/or authorities needed to protect other employees.

    • Notify, if required, the appropriate health agencies regarding persons infected with a communicable disease.

A well-designed communicable diseases policy can also help protect you from any number of potential legal landmines. Among the laws and agencies pertaining to this area are the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), workers’ compensation, local health codes, and OSHA – to name just some.

Get the safety policies you need without the work. They’re in BLR’s Essential Safety Policies program. Try it at no cost and no risk. Find out how.

Dealing with the threat of communicable diseases rises to a new level of urgency when the disease is life-threatening (e.g., AIDS/HIV, TB, avian flu, typhoid fever, etc.). Your communicable diseases policy should dovetail with a life-threatening illnesses policy, and Essential Safety Policies provides you with sample strict, standard, and progressive versions of both.

You can use these policies “as is” or adapt them to your organization’s particular needs and style. The sections on communicable diseases and life-threatening illnesses provide you with comprehensive lists of points to cover if you want to adapt one of the policies or draft your own.

And Essential Safety Policies doesn’t stop there – it gives you a detailed list of other important things to consider when you implement these policies, such as interrelation with other policies, employee education, accuracy of diagnoses, monetary limitations, what to do if co-workers refuse to work with an infected employee, and much more.

Take these kinds of materials and multiply them by more than two dozen key safety topics, and you’ll know why Essential Safety Policies is such a valuable tool for busy safety professionals. These policies provide a ready-to-modify or use-as-is safety handbook for all your workers, with minimal effort on your part.

The policies are backed by a tutorial on policy writing and essential materials such as handbook receipts. A CD version is also available.

If your organization could benefit from supplementing (or perhaps having for the first time) a complete set of ready to use safety policies, we highly recommend a 30-day, no-cost, no-obligation, look at this program. Go here and we’ll be pleased to send it to you.