A report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that it is the responsibility of employers and employees to ensure travel health before, during, and after any type of travel, whether it is business related or not.
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 35% of all travel is business related, but travel related diseases have an equal spread across all demographics due to a lack of pre-travel prevention.
“The failure of travelers to receive preventive medication results in unnecessary illness, medical expense, and the potential spread of contagious diseases within their local communities,” says the report. Employers are encouraged to identify employees who may travel internationally and to refer them to qualified health care professionals for the purpose of providing helpful travel health information and vaccinations that could protect those traveling employees and others within the workplace environment.
Employees traveling to developing countries or high risk areas are asked to take specific precautions by OSHA and the CDC, including:
- Speak with a travel health specialist and receive any necessary vaccinations and preventative medicines before the trip.
- Be sure to receive any booster vaccinations against any disease for which immunity may have diminished such as: yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid and/or influenza.
- Don’t handle animals in the region, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases like rabies.
- Drink bottled or boiled water, and avoid tap water or ice that may be contaminated.
OSHA is a regulatory organization within the Department of Labor that oversees health and safety issues in the workplace, especially those involving exposure to harm, employee access to information, and required safety procedures. Its mission since 1970 has been to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”
For more information on what employees and employers can do to avoid illness in the workplace, whether it be from travel or endemic diseases, see Passport Health’s Employer Solutions pages.