AFGE requests CDC guidance to protect all public safety workers from Ebola

AFGE requests CDC guidance to protect all public safety workers from Ebola

Union says members seeking guidance on protective equipment, containment policies

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue guidelines to protect public safety and law enforcement workers who are most likely to come in contact with people infected with Ebola.

“CDC’s guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment by hospital workerswere a crucial first step. But if we are truly going to stop the spread of this and other devastating communicable diseases, guidelines must be created and implemented for all public sector employees who are at risk of exposure due to their repeated and close contact with the general public,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

Employees at risk of exposure who currently lack sufficient guidance include federal law enforcement agents with the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who accompany people on planes when they’re being deported for health or other reasons, Defense Department civilians sent to West African nations and others in repeated contact with the public, federal corrections officers with the Bureau of Prisons, and police and firefighters at the local, state and federal levels.

Specifically, AFGE is requesting CDC guidance based on the five pillars of safety as detailed on CDC’s website. These are:

?       Leadership. Managers must maintain a culture of worker safety in which appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and correctly maintained, and workers are provided with appropriate training. 

?       Onsite liaison. Every workplace should designate an Ebola site manager who oversees implementing the necessary precautions to protect employees and civilians.

?       Planning. Facilities should develop clear, standardized procedures in which they choose one of two options for addressing a potential Ebola outbreak and have a back-up plan in case supplies are not available.

?       Training. All public sector employees should receive repeated training on the proper use of PPE.

?       Oversight. Consistent review is critical to ensure safety protocols are implemented accurately and that any error in putting on or taking off PPE is identified in real-time, corrected and addressed, in case potential exposure occurred.

“All of our employees need official guidance on how to appropriately respond to any potential Ebola outbreaks, and it is incumbent on CDC to detail that guidance as soon as possible,” Cox said.

In addition, Cox echoed a call from the AFL-CIO for the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce CDC guidelines at all public- and private-sector worksites.

“CDC’s guidelines are strictly voluntary. OSHA must step up to the plate and use its authority to enforce these guidelines to ensure full compliance across the country. That is the only way we will be able to prevent this disease from infecting more people in the U.S.,” Cox said.

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The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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