their diverse work environments (some of which have engineering or other controls, such as ventilation, in place).
The current paucity of data on influenza transmission is hindering research and development efforts for PPE and for other influenza prevention and control measures. Until more is known about influenza transmission, it will be critical to follow current infection control practices, to ensure that all forms of protection are available to healthcare workers, and to heighten their knowledge of PPE and its use, while also obtaining the input of healthcare workers in designing, testing, and developing the next generation of PPE. It is hoped that this report will catalyze initiatives to promote a strong emphasis on the safety of healthcare workers.
Respiratory protection and some other forms of PPE have been designed primarily for industrial exposures. Increased focus should be placed on the unique needs of healthcare workers who are a substantial percentage of the U.S. workforce (approximately 10 percent) and who require PPE that allows for interaction with and care of patients and provides protection to both the wearer and the patient.
The set of recommendations emerging from this report can be grouped into three broad categories with the overarching theme of rigorously ensuring the safety of healthcare workers so that they can continue to care for and protect their patients as shown in Figure 6-1. The task of the committee focused on protecting workers in the emergency situation of an influenza pandemic; however, the improvements resulting from implementation of the recommendations in this report have the potential to further enhance worker safety in other healthcare situations as well as in other industries and workplaces.