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Infections at Work

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 12 Aug 2016 | comments*Discuss
Infections Workplace Work Safety

Infections at work can occur anywhere in which harmful micro-organisms are present. These can include, but are not limited to, fungi, bacteria, internal parasites and viruses. Many micro-organisms in the workplace are completely harmless and some of them have a real purpose such as in the manufacture of certain medicines and where they can help to break up and disperse harmful agents within oil and chemical spillages. However, others can be harmful and can be responsible for allergies, infections or through being toxic.

The Risks of Infection

Certain occupations pose a greater threat of contracting infections than others. For example, medical and research laboratories are specifically involved in working with micro-organisms and hospitals and nursing homes pose a relatively high risk of occupational exposure and it is the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) responsibility for putting legislation in place with regards to health and safety regulations in these types of environments.

However, local authorities often have a care of duty with regard to legislation for other occupational areas such as large office complexes and hotels where cooling towers could present a risk of infection caused by Legionnaire’s Disease and the likes of tattoo and piercing parlours, where viruses contained in blood might be transmitted unless particular care is paid to things like cleanliness, hygiene and equipment sterilisation.

Handling things like human or animal waste or working in occupations where there’s a real threat of contamination like sewage management and drain cleaning is also a particular risk. Other potentially dangerous occupations when it comes to the risk of infection include abattoir workers, cleaners, those who work with animals, the dental profession, farmers and even grave diggers but this is just to name a few.


The primary piece of legislation which relates to the control of infectious diseases at work is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and covers any micro-organism which could cause infection, allergy, toxicity or any other danger to human health. There are many biological agents which make up a list drawn up within the regulations and they are each classified into one of 4 hazardous groups with HG4 being the most hazardous. On the basis of each of the four groupings, there are then appropriate regulations and guidelines which must be adhered to in terms of their control and containment.

Other Legislative Measures

In addition to COSHH, there is also other health and safety legislation in place when it comes to infections and working with or coming into contact with potentially harmful micro-organisms or biological agents in areas such as working with genetically modified organisms, legislation with regards to cooling towers and evaporative condensers, anthrax prevention and the transportation of dangerous and infectious micro-organisms.

In addition to the Department of Health, who are specifically responsible for infectious diseases, other bodies are also involved in administering and enforcing health and safety regulations relating to infection such as the Food Standards Agency which deals with food and kitchen hygiene and food poisoning where the law is policed by environmental health officers. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is responsible for infectious animal diseases such as bird flu and foot and mouth disease which have both hit the headlines over recent years.

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I start job at the new company,I was diesel counter balance driver,at the busy site,I note is that is very large smog from the diesel engines from trucks ,it was even hurting my eys on the begining, I was working without mask on ,when I asked for protective mask menager told me on first place I need to provide this equipment by myself ,I was thinking he was making a fan of me ...,but he was not i was working 3 days without gloves and mask ,without any protective equipment , I was feeling sick from the smog inside the warehouse ,there was no an air ventilation that could be working,I leave that job because of that and the behaviour of people,I did feel very bad in that place.I dont know thats legal to have that much exhaust emission.I waiting for response.Thank nyou
peterpan - 12-Aug-16 @ 7:52 PM
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