Report finds Arizona ranks low in preventing infectious disease outbreaks

Employers in Arizona may want to examine how well they inform the workforce about illness prevention and the steps they take to avert spreading illness in the workplace. A report by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) reviewed states’ policies and capabilities of protecting against infectious diseases. The report found numerous states had outdated systems or too few resources to protect the well-being of their residents. Arizona was found to only have 3 out of the 10 indicators the report examined, resulting in one of the lowest scores in the report.

While Arizona has an Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program to track infectious diseases and identify areas of improvement, employers may want take measures to prevent the spread of illness in the workplace.

Taking steps against the advancement of illness
The TFAH and RWJF “Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Disease” report noted the majority of states often are unable to prevent illness outbreaks because they don’t have the capabilities to do so. According to the report, 34 states received a score of 5 or lower in the 10 established categories. The report found Georgia, Nebraska and New Jersey had the lowest score of 2 out of 10. Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming share the ranking of 3 out of 10 with Arizona. The highest score was 8 out of 10, and only New Hampshire achieved it.

The study noted the biggest gaps in illness outbreak prevention tend to center around providing workers with the ability to detect and control diseases. Providing employees with information about antibiotic resistance and the need for vaccinations may help employers and states to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak in their local areas.

Employers may want to create policies in the workplace to prevent the spread of illness among the workforce, such as by hosting a flu vaccination clinic or providing workers with sick day benefits. Many employees may feel as if they need to come into work even when they are ill, but this may result in an outbreak among the workforce that may cause additional workers to use sick days. For many companies, preventative techniques often are less costly than having many members of the workforce go home sick due to illness.

In a separate article, the Houston Chronicle also suggested employers install air filtration systems to minimize the spread of disease in the workplace. In addition, the Chronicle reported employers legally are able to send workers home if they are sick.

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