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 workers were 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:
“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.