Disease (TBD) Prevention – A new and robust strategy is now required.
In May of 2017 CONN-OSHA
announced its plan to implement of a new and innovative
strategy to prevent tick-borne disease transmissions at
Connecticut workplaces by applying the Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) standards within CONN-OSHA regulations. (http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/osha/Quarterly/May
CONN-OSHA has determined that within the State of Connecticut, effective
preventive measures need to be implemented as part of the routine workplace
health and safety programs that would protect employees from exposures to
The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), the Connecticut
Agricultural Experimentation Station (CAES), the Department of Energy and
Environmental Protection (DEEP), University of Connecticut (UCONN), local
health departments, and health districts routinely disseminate research
findings and public health information, bulletins, advisories and
recommendations on tick-borne disease (TBD) prevention. As such, there is a
wealth of public health information. It is a role of Connecticut's public
health apparatus to provide advice and recommendations to the public in
order to enhance and increase awareness for the prevention of communicable
Currently, CONN-OSHA inspections find that most employers do not have active
TBD exposure prevention strategies in place. Effective strategies would
include training on recognizing tick habitat, exposure avoidance, repellant
use, tick checks, blousing or tucking pant legs into socks, light colored
work clothing, hygienic practices, correct tick removal, and reporting tick
The debilitating tick-borne infection of Lyme disease was identified in
Connecticut in 1975. Lyme disease has rapidly increased in range and
frequency throughout New England, the mid-Atlantic and north-central states
and has become the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.
There are now seven tick-borne diseases known to have been transmitted in
The Powasson Virus (POWV) is an established and endemic zoonotic disease
found during Connecticut tick and deer surveys. The first human transmission
of a POWV infection in Connecticut occurred in the month of November 2017.
It is currently considered a rare infectious disease. However it has a 10%
fatality rate with cases having neuroinvasive involvement, and 50% of those
who survive experience varying degrees of permanent brain damage and
New and emerging TBDs in Connecticut are posing problems and challenges to
employers and employees relevant to preventing occupational exposures.
Workplace prevention of TBDs needs to be implemented to provide a safer work
Research studies are indicating that Connecticut woodland fauna ecology and
environmental changes have been in flux for decades. New diseases and vector
competent ticks are being introduced into our landscape and are advancing
across the regional geography. Higher abundance of disease infected ticks is
being reported within the fragmented forest landscape environments where our
citizens live and work. Now, with higher rates of human infections and
emergence of new TBDs into our geography a fresh look at our relationship
with our outdoor life and work environments is required. Those of us having
occupational safety and health workplace responsibilities must meet the
challenge of addressing these health hazards by raising the level of
awareness to these pervasive diseases. In the long term, we must begin to
address the larger disease ecology and vector control problems on our
horizon. In the short term, we will begin to control our exposures to these
By implementing workplace prevention and controls with the application of
the existing CONN-OSHA standard 1910.132 "Personal Protective Equipment," we
will begin to attack this pervasive and persistent public health problem
from a different direction with a new and innovative approach. This
inexpensive strategy does not require new regulations or amended
legislation. It will raise public awareness and begin to change the way we
work within high density disease endemic environments in our state.
All covered agencies within the State of Connecticut will be required to
assess their workplaces for the known and recognized hazard of occupational
exposure to tick-borne disease and to implement prescribed workplace control
measures. Private sector employers within Connecticut under the jurisdiction
of Federal OSHA should begin to implement these initiatives as well. Below
is a list of the best and most directly available resources for Connecticut
employers to begin their assessments and to implement safety and health
practices within workplaces having exposure to TBD.
References/ resource links for employers:
Diseases of the United States
OSHA publication 3151-12R 2004 "Personal Protective Equipment"
OSHA publication 3017 Rev. 2002 "Job Hazard Analysis
29 CFR Part 1910 General Industry Regulations – Standard
1910.132 "Personal Protective Equipment" - Sections
1910.132(a)(1) through (h)(7)
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
"Lyme Disease Recommendations for employers and workers"
NIOSH "Tick-borne Diseases, Recommendations for Employers and
Connecticut Agricultural Experimentation Station (CAES) "Tick
Management Handbook", Dr. Kirby C. Stafford III, Ph.D. Bulletin
CAES Fact Sheet - "The Prevention of Tick Bite and Tick-Borne
Disease: Tick Checks and the Use of Insect Repellents", Dr.
Kirby C. Stafford III
CAES Pamphlet - "Ticks, Lyme Disease and other tick-borne
disease, Northeastern United States.
April 29, 2020