Hepatitis A outbreaks in three California counties have Cal/OSHA urging employers to protect their workers who are at risk of exposure.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and can be fatal in some cases. Outbreaks have been reported in San Diego, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles counties.

“Preventive measures are essential to protecting workers at risk of exposure,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. Cal/OSHA  has posted preventive measures posted online.

Workers who have direct contact with persons who are homeless or use illicit drugs have an increased risk of hepatitis A exposure in settings that include the following:

• Health care and laboratory
• Public safety and emergency medical services
• Sanitation and janitorial
• Homeless services and substance use treatment facilities

A person can be exposed to the hepatitis A virus after coming into contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by an infected person. Employers should maintain a clean and sanitary workplace and provide proper handwashing facilities and protective equipment. Training on new hazards is required for at-risk workers in outbreak locations to understand how hepatitis A is transmitted and how to prevent infection.