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Today, AIDS is the second leading cause of death among adults between the ages of 25 and 44. With more than half of the nations 126 million workers in this age group, managers cannot afford to ignore this deadly disease. As more effective drug therapies, such as protease inhibitors, are extending the lives of HIV positive people, an increased number are able to return to the workforce and stay productive. One in six large companies has had an employee with HIV/AIDS and one in 15 companies with 15 to 49 employees has had at least one worker with HIV/AIDS (according to the CDC in Atlanta). The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2000, there will be 15 million new adult HIV infections, with six million people exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Since 25 % of new cases are in between the ages of 13 to 20 years old, this means that the teenagers of today who are HIV positive are the workers who will develop AIDS in 10 years.
In order to be successful into the future, companies need to address HIV-infected workers and workers with AIDS. However, HIV and AIDS pose special challenges to employers. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the retrovirus that causes AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. While AIDS itself does not kill a person, the disease weakens the persons immune system, allowing other diseases like Kaposis sarcoma invade the body.
These opportunistic diseases eventually overwhelm the persons body. The virus is found in blood and other body products like saliva, sweat, and tears, and can only be transmitted by the exchange of blood, body products, or by sexual contact. Once the HIV virus is exposed to air, it dies instantaneously. This means that someone cannot spread the virus through breathing the same air, or by casual contact such as shaking hands. A person can be infected if he / she has an open wound that comes into contact with infected blood or body products. However, the risk of infection for most employees is very low, since there are a limited number of occupations where a worker will encounter blood or body products.
Employees with AIDS and their Co-workers HIV-infection and AIDS can be expensive to an employer both directly and indirectly. One issue that managers confront is employee absenteeism. Those with AIDS spend approximately 16 days a year in a hospital at an estimated cost of $ 1, 000 per day, plus an additional $ 1, 000 a day for medicine, and many more days at home not well enough to come to work. (Paul and Townsend, p. 9) Another issue that a manager faces is what to do when the employee cannot perform the duties of their job any longer. The manager must decide whether to restructure the employees job, or transfer him or her to another position. Another matter that a manager needs to face is that eventually the employee will be too sick to continue to work.
The manager needs to determine when this time has come and how to handle the situation. The psychological issues that an employee with AIDS faces is also important to consider. Facing death is not easy, and an employee diagnosed with AIDS faces severe psychological stress. Managers must realize that the job performance of the employee may suffer, as they try to come to terms with their fate.
The insurance industry calculates that a typical AIDS patients medical bills cost an average of $ 140, 000 from diagnosis to death. According to a study by the Medical College of Georgia, treatment costs for AIDS patients have risen from $ 12, 000 a year in 1992 to $ 18, 000 in 1997. (Greene, p 2) Since many employers provide health insurance for their workers, their premiums may go up, especially as more people make AIDS-related insurance claims. The costs for medical, disability, life insurance, and retirement benefits could reach $ 315, 000 for an employee making $ 75, 000 a year. Experts estimate that lost productivity of workers with AIDS could be as high as $ 500 billion worldwide. (Paul and Townsend, p. 9) Another issue that AIDS patients face is the potential loss of their insurance coverage. More and more people who left highly skilled jobs when they developed AIDS, are recovering their health with the help of protease inhibitors. However, some employees are afraid to go back to work because of the way their insurance programs are set up.
If a person with AIDS starts a new job and becomes sick within the first six months, their old insurance carrier will still cover them. However, if the person becomes sick again once the six months pass, they will not have any insurance coverage. The reason is that most disability insurance policies do not go into effect until the employee has been with their company for a year. Someone who becomes too sick to work will not retain insurance coverage under either the old or new employers policy. Not only do managers have to deal with the direct costs and problems of employees with AIDS, but they must also deal with the indirect costs and problems with the feelings of those working with someone with AIDS.
People are afraid of contracting AIDS from the infected person. Such fear can affect an entire organizations productivity, if other employees refuse to work with an AIDS-infected person. Since there is no cure for AIDS, some people feel uncomfortable around AIDS patients because they are forced to deal with their own mortality. Some people still believe that AIDS only affect certain groups of people, specifically homosexual men and intravenous drug users. Of course, the dramatic increase of heterosexual men and women contracting the disease shows that these stereotypes are not true.
These people may allow their stereotypes affect how they treat people with AIDS. Employers also could face increased recruiting costs. There are people who feel that they would rather quit rather than associate with an AIDS-infected co-worker. Replacements may be difficult to recruit because potential employees may withdraw when they learn that the firm employs AIDS-infected workers. Employers may need to offer wage and benefit premiums in order to attract workers. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against disabled applicants and employees who satisfy the job requirements and can perform essential job functions.
The ADA defines an individual with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities, who has a record of such impairment, or who is regarded as having an impairment. The ADA considers people living with HIV and AIDS to be disabled, so the act protects these people from discrimination. The ADA states that employers must make reasonable accommodations to the known disabilities of the person. Such accommodations can include extra time off with pay for medical appointments or illness, a flexible work schedule, and adequate ventilation to prevent airborne opportunistic infections. If the employer demonstrates that this would constitute an undue hardship, then they are not obligated to provide an accommodation, but the company must be prepared to prove that assertion. Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 provides job safety and health protection for workers through the promotion of safe and healthful working conditions through the nation. (Ivancevich, p. 633) In July 1992, OSHA passed the Bloodborne Pathogen Standards, which apply to all workplaces with employees who could reasonably be expected to be exposed to blood or body fluids.
In these work environments, employers must produce, execute, and follow a set of safety guidelines, which are: 61553; They must develop an exposure control plan 61553; Take universal precautions to avoid contamination 61553; Have workers wear personal protective equipment 61553; Communicate the presence of hazards 61553; Inform, train, and keep records of all possible incidents However, there are few occupations preventing employees from performing reasonable job functions because they have AIDS/HIV. In addition, whether or not someone has HIV, all employees must follow the safety guidelines set by the organization. For jobs where employees cannot perform their job functions, under the ADA, the employer must provide reasonable accommodations. These adjustments can include using different equipment or changes in work assignments. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) Under this act, employers cannot discriminate against their employees for the purpose of interfering with their right to claim benefits under an employee benefit plan. This includes health, disability, or life insurance programs, but does not include previously offered benefits that are neither vested nor accrued. (Paul and Townsend, p. 4) One case involved a woman who claimed her company fired her because she developed multiple sclerosis, which would raise the their insurance premiums.
The court decided against the employer, ruling that their action violated ERISA. This act can be applied to AIDS patients also who have their health insurance taken away. The first step...
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Research essay sample on Occupational Safety And Health 000 A Year