Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death from a curable infectious disease. TB can disrupt workflow, reduce productivity, increase health-care costs and result in the need to train new workers. The majority of TB cases occur in the working population; the oil and gas industry is particularly vulnerable to the impact of TB, due to the fact that many countries in which the industry operates are ‘high burden’ countries and that there is considerable movement of industry workers between regions.

This paper outlines basic strategies to manage TB in the workplace and is designed to assist managers and supervisors in oil industry facilities recognize the risks associatd with TB in the workforce, and to respond by putting in place plans and programs to manage the disease.

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The treatment of TB in the workplace is important, as untreated TB can lead to death; indeed, TB is the leading cause of death from a curable infectious disease. In 2008, there were 9.4 million new TB cases and an estimated 1.3 million attributable deaths1 (Figure 1). TB can disrupt workflow, reduce productivity, increase health-care costs and result in the need to train new workers. The majority of TB cases occur in people between the ages of 15 and 54; hence it is the core of the working population that is most vulnerable.

The impact of TB on business is severe. Each year, TB is responsible for a reduction of around US$16 billion in the annual incomes of the world's poorest communities2. It is therefore essential for business to address the threat of TB, and act collectively to ensure the most effective and cost-efficient response. To this end, a number of roundtables, conferences and forums are held around the world every year to ensure that this approach is adopted by interested parties.

The emergence of HIV in the past quarter century has proved a challenge to global efforts to reduce the prevalence of TB. HIV is a strong risk factor for the development of TB, and as a result, TB has emerged as the most common HIV-associated opportunistic infection worldwide3.

Effective control of the disease in countries with a high incidence of TB will have a positive impact on the global situation, and will minimize the health consequences and cost burden to business, local governments and communities.

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