Government Information Departments and Agencies NJ Business Portal MY New Jersey NJ people NJ Home Page

Mail Package Handling Information

November 9, 2001

Interim Guidelines
For Minimizing Risk From Cutaneous And Inhalation Anthrax

For Mail Handlers (Operators, Machine Maintenance Workers) In Mail Room Facilities With High Speed Handling Machines

This document provides interim recommendations for workers involved in mail sorting, distribution and handling in state, county and local public facilities.

A program to reduce skin or respiratory exposures to B. anthracis spores may decrease the risk of anthrax disease in mail handlers. These interim recommendations are based on the limited information available on ways to avoid infection and the effectiveness of various prevention strategies. These recommendations will be updated as new information becomes available.

A rank order of measures will be used to control potential exposures to B. anthracis. These include, starting with the highest rank order, engineering controls to capture B. anthracis spores at potential points of release, housekeeping measures to reduce the spread of B. anthracis spores and personal protective equipment to prevent worker exposure.

Engineering Controls

  • Management is evaluating the feasibility of installing engineering controls such as HEPA-filtered exhaust hoods or enclosures for high-speed mail handling equipment and for other areas where dust is generated by processing mail.
  • An industrial vacuum cleaner equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters should be the first choice of cleaning high-speed mail-sorting equipment. Blow-down/blow-off should not be used to remove dust.

Housekeeping Controls

  • Housekeeping measures reduce the spread of B. anthracis spores and personal protective equipment to prevent worker exposure. Areas should be wet-cleaned and/or vacuumed with HEPA filter equipped vacuum cleaners. Do not dry sweep or dust.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


  • Protective gloves will be available to all workers handling mail (e.g., envelopes and packages).

  • Different gloves or layers of gloves may be needed depending on the task, the dexterity required and the type of protection needed. In some cases, workers may need to wear cotton gloves under impermeable gloves for comfort and to prevent dermatitis. Skin rashes and other dermatological conditions are a potential hazard of wearing gloves.

  • Gloves will be provided in a range of sizes to ensure proper fit.

  • The choice of glove material (e.g., powder-free nitrile, vinyl) will be based on safety, fit, durability and comfort.

  • Latex gloves should Not be worn because of the risk of developing skin sensitivity or allergy.

  • Care must be taken to avoid touching skin, eyes, or other mucous membranes since contaminated gloves may transfer B. anthracis spores to other body sites.

  • Gloves should be discarded if they are visibly torn or damaged.

  • Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap and water when gloves are removed, before eating and when replacing torn or worn gloves. Soap and water will wash away most spores that my have contacted the skin. Disinfectant solutions are not needed. Do not rely on alcohol-based hand cleaners, as these cleaners will not remove spores as well as soap and water.

  • Used or torn gloves can be discarded in regular trash.

Other Personal Protective Equipment

The use of disposable aprons/coveralls or goggles by persons working with or near equipment or machinery known or suspected to generate aerosolized particles may provide an extra margin of protection. As with gloves, used aprons/coveralls and goggles can be discarded in regular trash.

Respiratory Protection

Where engineering controls are not yet available, NIOSH approved elastomeric half mask respirators will be available for employees to minimize risk. P 100 filters should be made available in conditions where oil mist from machinery or high humidity is present. A Respiratory Protection Program will be implemented. A respiratory protection program is important because it ensures that the respirator is cleaned, stored, or maintained properly so that the respirator itself does not create a hazard. In addition, a medical evaluation is made to determine the ability of the individual to wear the respirator.

How to Recognize and Handle a Suspicious Package or Envelope

State Privacy Notice legal statement DHSS Feedback Page New Jersey Home

department: njdhss home | index by topic | programs/services
statewide: njhome | my new jersey | people | business | government | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2003
Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

Last Updated: