Occupational safety and health protections against Ebola virus disease

Knut Ringen, Philip J. Landrigan, Jeffrey O. Stull, Richard Duffy, James Melius, Melissa A. McDiarmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Even as the Ebola epidemic is finally showing signs of remitting, controversy continues regarding the modes of disease transmission, the understanding of which necessarily dictates methods of prevention. The initial public health response to the epidemic was based on assumptions formed during previous outbreaks, and in the belief that transmission was restricted to direct "contact" with other infected patients. However, the current Ebola outbreak differed from previous experiences in its intensity of transmission, speed of spread, and fatality rate and was also particularly unforgiving on health workers occupationally infected. Even with these differences, however, other modes of transmission were not considered by public health authorities, thus denying both the hard-hit health worker populations and the wider public more protective guidance. International Labor Conventions require employers to provide a comprehensive safety program that anticipates work-related risks and specifies strategies for protection against them. Such a precautionary approach is recommended in future epidemic planning, especially where evidence regarding transmission is incomplete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-714
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Ebola
  • Health worker protection
  • Occupational health
  • Precautionary principle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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