How to Reduce Your Risk

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3 min 23 sec
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During this course, we are going to be looking at how you can reduce the risk of coming into contact with infectious material. There are standard precautions in all workplaces to reduce the risk to employees, employers and members of the public. These include:

  • You should treat all bodily fluids, from every person as potentially infectious
  • Ensure that you follow the recommendations in your employer’s Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure control plan, which should include the requirements regarding the levels of risk of employees that may have occupational exposure
  • Training requirements
  • Work practice controls
  • Engineering controls and procedure for an exposure incident.

To reduce the risk of infection ensure that you always use your own personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE.  This equipment includes Gloves, Masks, Eye Protection, aprons and CPR shields to name a few.  Your employer should provide your PPE and you are required to use it correctly. You should always ensure that you know where your PPE is at your workplace, familiarise yourself with it and make sure that you know how to use it.

Make sure you check first aid kits and emergency supplies to ensure that they include disposable gloves, face shields or rescue masks.

Other steps that need to be taken to further reduce the risk of infection are:

  • You should not eat, drink, smoke, apply cosmetics or handle contact lenses in areas where there is the possibility of exposure to bloodborne pathogens when you are emptying trash containers, do not use your hands to compress the trash in the bag and always lift and carry the trash bag away from your body.
  • If you handle laundry you must always follow your facility’s procedures which in general means and wear your PPE
  • When dealing with needles and other sharps these must be discarded in rigid, leak-proof, puncture resistance containers. Never bend, shear, break or recap needles. If you must recap a needle, use the one-handed method.   The Needle sticks Prevention Act requires appropriate, commercially available, and effective safer medical devices designed to eliminate or minimise occupational exposure.

If you are responsible for handling specimens or other potentially infectious material you have duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the COSHH regulations to conduct the work safely. Other regulations are contained in the carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Receptacles Regulations 1996.   More details are available on collection, labelling, despatch and transport of specimens is available by the carriers, royal mail and government websites.

Potentially infectious material may be sent by post provided that the conditions of the post office are met. It is recommended that plastic containers have a screw-cap so as to minimize leakage or breakage.  The Post Office should be your first line of consultation for the latest instructions for posting pathological material.