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Possible anthrax exposure to workers at CDC

In workplaces where employees are handling, or coming into contact with, hazardous substances or materials, including chemicals, infectious bacteria and other toxins, employers in Alabama, and elsewhere, are required to establish and enforce safety protocols. The purpose of these measures is to avoid exposures and contaminations. Should exposure or contamination occur, despite these protocols, or due to a lack of proper policies, it can result in a worker contracting an occupational illness or injury.

A breakdown in safety protocols reportedly led to an anthrax exposure that occurred at a Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Atlanta location recently. According to reports, a lab failed to properly inactivate anthrax samples. More than 80 workers purportedly might have been exposed to the infectious bacteria. It was not reported why the samples were not adequately inactivated, but believing that they were, the samples were moved to three other labs, where employees handled and used them without wearing the appropriate safety gear.

It remains unknown to the public at this time whether any of the workers has started to display symptoms of the disease. According to reports, 52 of the 54 CDC employees who have been seen by physicians for the possible exposure have been started on oral antibiotic treatments. The two not taking medication opted not to.

Workers who develop an illness or injury as the result of a workplace toxin or biohazard exposure may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It may be of benefit to not only discuss the process for filing a claim with your employer, but also to speak with an attorney to understand your employer’s responsibility and your rights.

Source: CNN, “CDC: Up to 86 workers possibly exposed to anthrax,” Dana Ford, June 19, 2014

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