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Is Zika a concern for construction workers?

People from across north and south America have likely heard of the Zika virus. This virus has been spreading quickly through many warm areas as it is carried by mosquitoes. No one is immune to the effects of the Zika virus. While the virus is not particularly harmful to adults, it can cause severe birth defects in unborn children. Since parents can be carriers for many months prior to a pregnancy, it is important for adults to understand the risks of Zika, especially when the person spends a lot of time outside.

Workers in New York could be exposed to Zika in a variety of situations. If people are traveling for work or to warm areas, Zika can become a concern for these workers. Construction workers, in particular, work outside and need to be aware of the risks of this serious virus.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an employer should take steps to protect employees from potential Zika exposure. These include training employees on how to eliminate mosquito breeding on construction sites. Also, employers should provide protective materials for construction workers. In particular, these materials can help reduce the chances of a bug bite.

Specifically, OSHA recommends that construction workers use insect repellent containing strong chemicals to ward off these insects. These include chemicals containing DEET and other EPA registered chemicals. These should be used directly on skin that is exposed to the air. Other bug sprays can be used on an individual's clothing.

OSHA also recommends that standing water -- including those in buckets and barrels -- on the construction site be eliminated. This helps to reduce mosquito breeding in the area.

There are many risks to construction workers in New York and throughout the United States. Employers are responsible for providing safety protections from a variety of hazards on the workplace. However, when a workplace accident occurs, workers should understand their legal rights. Workers' compensation may be available to these workers should they suffer an occupational injury or occupational disease. An attorney may be able to give specific legal advice to workers in these situations.

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