Infection control principles and practices for local public health agencies
Gwen Borlaug, Infection Control Epidemiologist
- A volunteer is someone who receives no form of compensation from the entity using the services of the volunteer. This includes uniforms and meals. However, an occasional celebration that includes a meal does not negate volunteer status.
- Although volunteers are not covered under OSHA standards, it is in the best interests of the agency and the volunteers to afford them the same protections as employees when performing job tasks that require PPE and other safety measures.
Follow all safety procedures, including PPE use, from the agency for which you are providing assistance. It is the responsibility of the receiving agency to provide PPE and training on its proper use before job tasks requiring PPE are performed.
The receiving agency is responsible for providing medical evaluation, fit testing and training to those needing respiratory protection.
- There may be limited time when deploying people to respond to an emergency.
- All components of a respiratory protection program should be conducted during a public health emergency, including fit-testing, medical evaluation, and training, in order to protect employees and volunteers to the greatest extent possible. However, OSHA officials have indicated that health care organizations will not be fined for practices that occur during an infectious disease outbreak.
These agencies are responsible for providing their employees with current day-to-day supplies of appropriate PPE as well as ensuring that sufficient supplies are available during a public health emergency. PPE should be ordered directly from suppliers, as other sources such as hospitals or public health agencies will not have stockpiles to distribute to employers in their area.
No. You should not purchase these items for the general public. Consider having these items on hand only at mass clinics or local public health agencies where members of the general public may present with signs and symptoms of communicable diseases.
Local public health agencies should protect volunteers and employees from other agencies in the same way they protect their own employees.