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Workers' compensation: What to use for flu protection

The flu season typically peaks in February, and it has already claimed several lives in California. Every year, a significant number of flu-related workers' compensation claims are filed. Workers in hospitals and other health care facilities face higher risks of exposure than most employees in other industries. Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers, and because vaccinations are not guaranteed to be effective, they might have to provide additional protection.

Safety authorities say respirators offer the most effective protection from airborne contaminants. They can protect workers for up to six feet from people who might have flu. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict specifications when it comes to respirators. Each worker's respirator must be a perfect fit to ensure no gaps exist through which unfiltered air can enter. It is also crucial to ensure that workers are medically fit to work while they wear respirators.

Although surgical masks are effective in a variety of circumstances, they might not provide the necessary protection from influenza viruses. They are typically worn by health care workers to protect them from blood and organisms in the saliva and mucus of patients. However, because they do not form a proper seal, contaminated air can be inhaled without it going through the mask.

That leaves a large number of workers without adequate protection against influenza and other viruses. Those who contract diseases through their work-related activities might be eligible for assistance to cope with medical bills and lost wages. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide guidance with the navigation of benefits claims for filing with the California workers' compensation insurance system.

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