What is the California OSHA standard for aerosol transmissible disease?

man wiping nose with tissue

Aerosol-transmissible diseases are highly infectious pathogens that can cause great harm as they spread throughout the workforce. To protect against this threat, OSHA requires businesses to follow strict procedures. Understanding these requirements is essential to the health and well-being of all employees. What is the California OSHA standard for aerosol-transmissible disease? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is An Aerosol Transmissible Disease?

Aerosol-transmissible diseases, or ATDs, are defined by the California government as “a disease for which droplet or airborne precautions are required.” Furthermore, ATDs can be transmitted by means of infectious particles, droplets, inhalation, or direct contact.

To further break down this definition, ATDs can be broken down into three separate categories, depending on their unique characteristics.

Airborne infectious diseases (AirID)/airborne infectious pathogens (AirIP) include diseases like tuberculosis and are transmitted through the air. 

ATDs/Aerosol transmissible pathogens (ATPs) require droplet precautions and are diseases like mumps or pertussis. These diseases are transmitted by infectious particles or droplets when they come into contact with the following:

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Upper respiratory tract
  • Mucous membranes
  • mouth 

Aerosol transmissible pathogens – laboratory (ATP-L) are pathogens that are spread by laboratory-generated aerosols.

Due to the highly infectious nature of ATDs, OSHA has implemented several safety precautions for employers in order to protect the health of the working force. 

OSHA Procedures For Aersol Transmissible Disease

To mitigate the risk of exposure to an ATD, OSHA has written and recorded several standards for businesses to follow. Here are the written guidelines for the state of California.

Infection Control

OSHA requires that employers select and designate one individual who is to act as the primary administrator. They are responsible for enforcing and managing the ATD infection control procedures. This individual must have both authority and knowledge of infection control principles. Furthermore, the employer must then select and designate a backup candidate to act instead of the primary candidate should they be unavailable.

Source Control

Source control serves to limit the risk of spread and infection. Procedures include practices such as:

  • Posted signs instructing employees and patients to inform health care staff if they are showing any symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Informing employees of respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Providing appropriate handwashing facilities, including anti-bacterial soap, sanitizers, etc.
  • Isolating symptomatic individuals to keep them from infecting other individuals. 
  • Informing individuals who may have been in contact with someone who has begun showing symptoms of infection. 


Screen individuals regularly for any of the following:

  • A cough lasting more than three weeks
  • Flu-related symptoms from March-October
  • Anyone stating they have an ATD aside from a cold or seasonal flu
  • Anyone claiming to have been exposed to an ATD other than the seasonal flu

Employer/Employee Communication

Employers are to consistently maintain active and thorough communication with all members of the workforce, including multiple shifts and individuals who arrive throughout the day. Keep and maintain regular meetings and records, ensuring that every individual is provided access to the same information deemed essential to share in accordance with OSHA’s recommendations. 

While there are many rules and regulations standardized by OSHA, employee safety and reduced risk of infection should be your highest priority. If at any time you feel your procedures are unsafe or improperly implemented, reach out to a healthcare professional for assistance implementing a proper protection plan.

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