While many may immediately think of hospital workers and others in healthcare as being at most risk for contracting hepatitis on the job, there is another group of workers very susceptible to hepatitis infection. Those working in food service may be exposed constantly to the most common form of hepatitis – hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is highly contagious and often infects people through hand to mouth contact, meaning touching an affected area and then touching one’s mouth. Hepatitis attacks the liver. The virus is spread due to contamination of the stool of a person that has hepatitis A. It is mostly likely wide spread because of poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions – think public bathroom. Those in food service are exposed due to the interaction with customers that failed to wash their hands after using the bathroom. Customers are also at risk when workers fail to observe hygiene basics. Eating or drinking contaminated foods or from contaminated surfaces can also spread the virus.
Contagious workers are capable of contaminated others for a period of one to two weeks before any symptoms appear. In the case of food workers, no one affected with the virus should be permitted to work for at least a period of two weeks of symptoms appearing. Symptoms can include fever, loss of appetite, jaundice, and stomach pain. Dark urine is also a sign of hepatitis infection.
Workers in the food service industry should speak with their medical provider about vaccinations and preventative methods for ensuring good health. Employers also need to enforce hygiene rules in the workplace including proper hand washing training for all employed. Hepatitis A-contaminated food is not as common in the US as it may be in other locations but it is still essential to wear protective gloves and keep sick workers at home.
If you have been infected with a disease or virus due to lack of protective measures on the job, you may be eligible for workers compensation benefits. Contact our office at 888-799-3918 or use our online contact form for more information about your rights.