Infection is caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses or fungi getting into or onto the body.

Infections can take some time before they multiply enough to cause symptoms of illness, which may cause an infected person to be spreading the disease without knowing.

Infection control in the workplace will prevent pathogens from encountering a person in the first place. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004 employers must provide a safe workplace for their employees and the implementation of infection control procedures will help.

Key precautions for infection control

  1. Hand hygiene

The best way to prevent an infection from spreading is good hand hygiene. Hands contaminated with pathogens are often picked up from contaminated cleaning cloths, passed onto clean hands and transferred onto a variety of clean surfaces. Therefore, having clean hands is one of the most effective ways of preventing infection from spreading. Hand hygiene should be regularly carried out in all work environments according to Hand Hygiene Australia’s Five moments for hand hygiene.

  1. Using personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to anything used or worn to minimise risk to workers of cross infection. PPE includes items like gloves, boots, goggles or hard hats depending on the industry. PPE is often implemented in order to work along-side higher level control measures or when an organisation has no other safety measures in place.

  1. Safe handling and disposal of sharps

Medical sharps devices refer to any sharp objects such as needles or scalpels and other tools that are used to cut or go into the skin. Learning how to handle sharps correctly is important in minimising the risk of infections being spread across the workforce. A presentation by Remedy’s RX provides a comprehensive guide in the safe handling and disposing of sharps.

  1. Environmental cleaning

Environmental cleaning is a key principle within infection control. All environments within healthcare settings need to be cleaned using appropriate products. Environmental surface cleaning is a process that removes any material such as blood, soil and micro-organisms from a surface using water and other products. Clean surfaces minimise the risk of transfer of micro-organisms from one person/object to another, thereby reducing the risk of cross-infection.

  1. Signage

The appropriate signs should be positioned in clear sight. Signage ensures staff or visitors do not enter an area without the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care have developed appropriate signage and they can be downloaded directly from here.

For further information on infection control and prevention please visit: National Infection Guidelines by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Cohort – The Occupational Health Software will enable you to reduce your sickness absence rate and the time this takes to monitor, track and control, hopefully allowing more time to be spent on alternative campaigns, problem staff and adding true value to your business. Check out Cohort’s modules and functionality.