New Training Program Will Educate Workers on Infectious Disease Safety
In response to infectious disease threats such as Ebola and Zika, a new training program announced in June will educate workers who may be exposed to infectious diseases on the job about protecting themselves and minimizing the spread of disease to others. The program, which will be launched by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will reach approximately 35,000 first responders, healthcare workers, waste management workers, transportation workers, mortuary workers, and others over three years. NIEHS’ Worker Training Program (WTP) will oversee the “Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training,” which will teach workers environmental infection control practices and hazard recognition skills.
“When we think of occupations that may be exposed to infectious disease, airport workers or custodial employees may not initially come to mind,” said NIEHS WTP Director Joseph “Chip” Hughes, PhD. “Yet all of these occupations have an important role in minimizing disease transmission, and they need to know how to protect themselves so they don’t get infected or spread diseases to their families or communities.”
Eight organizations were selected to receive grants based on their capacity to provide geographically distributed training for a range of occupations. Among these organizations are Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.; the International Chemical Workers Union Council in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Laborers’ International Union of North America Education and Training Fund in Connecticut; Rutgers School of Public Health in Piscataway, N.J.; and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. AIHA member Shawn Gibbs, PhD, will lead the training program at Indiana University Bloomington, and AIHA member James Frederick will do the same at the Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization in Pittsburgh, Pa.

CDC and other federal agencies, including OSHA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, collaborated in developing the curriculum and training.
To learn more, see NIH’s
press release