PHM Health staff and Support Workers may be exposed to infectious diseases as part of their work. This guide sets out some strategies for preventing and managing exposure to infectious diseases.
What is an Infectious Disease?
An Infectious Disease can be defined as a disease “that can be transmitted from person to person or from organism to organism, and is caused by eg. viruses and bacteria.” They may cause a short-term illness such as a cold or a longer-term condition such as hepatitis.
Infectious diseases can be airborne, such as meningitis or tuberculosis, blood borne such as HIV or hepatitis and faecal-oral borne such as gastroenteritis.
In all cases it is recommended to use suitable work procedures and actions to reduce the risk of transmission.
PHM Health is committed to reducing the exposure to infectious diseases for all of our users. We encourage the use of the following strategies to ensure that prevention is managed where possible:
Health Monitoring and Management
- Monitoring your health to ensure that you are aware of any infectious diseases you may have. Stay at home if you feel unwell.
- Seeking advice from a qualified medical professional on the best strategies for minimising exposure for others to any infectious disease.
- Informing support workers of any infectious diseases and training them in strategies to minimise exposure. This may include:
- Cancelling the shift if it is not urgent/critical or finding a more suitable person to cover the work
- Providing protective equipment like gloves and masks
- Disposing of contaminated waste appropriately.
- Refer to Providing support whilst adhering to Government hygiene and PPE standards for more information on hygiene standards.
Dealing with bodily fluids
- Water impermeable gloves should be worn before having contact with blood and bodily fluids/substances:
- Aqueous-based hand creams should be used before wearing gloves. Oil-based preparations should be avoided as these may cause latex gloves to deteriorate.
- Gloves should be removed and replaced once the specific task is finished.
- Hands should be washed, following safe handwashing procedures, and dried before and after coming into contact with blood and bodily fluids:
- A mild liquid hand wash (with no added substances, which may cause irritation or dryness) should be used for routine hand washing
- To minimize chapping of hands, use warm water and pat hands dry rather than rubbing them
- Liquid hand wash dispensers with disposable cartridges, including disposable dispensing nozzle, are preferred over refillable containers, which may be predisposed to bacterial colonization.
- Waterproof aprons should be worn to protect clothing from being contaminated with blood or other body fluids/substances.
- Surgical masks and/or protective eyewear should be worn where eyes and/or mucous membranes may be exposed to splashed or sprayed blood or other body fluids/substances.
- Cuts or abrasions on any part of a worker’s body must be covered with waterproof dressings at all times.
- Refer to Providing support where there is a confirmed or at risk case of COVID-19 for more information on PPE use.
It is important that regular cleaning is conducted in the space where the disability support is provided (e.g in the home).
Surfaces should be cleaned on a regular basis using only cleaning procedures that minimise dispersal of microorganisms into the air:
- clean and dry work surfaces before and after use or when visibly soiled
- spills should be wiped up immediately;
- use detergent and warm water for routine cleaning;
- where surface disinfection is required, use in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions;
- clean and dry surfaces before and after applying disinfectants;
- empty buckets after use, wash with detergent and warm water and store dry; and
- mops should be cleaned in detergent and warm water then stored dry.
The space where the disability support is being provided should come with a set of standard cleaning materials including a large reusable plastic container or bucket with fitted lid, containing:
- large zip seal plastic bags for waste material;
- sturdy cardboard scraper and pan (similar to a ‘pooper scooper’);
- sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or other equivalent acting disinfectant.
- disposable rubber gloves suitable for cleaning;
- eye protection (disposable or reusable);
- a plastic apron; and
- a mask (for protection against inhalation of powder from the disinfectant granules, or aerosols from high risk spills, which may be generated during the cleaning process).
Response to Exposure
Response strategies to use if all minimisation strategies have been followed and someone has still been exposed:
- DRSABCD and First Aid Practices
- Skin – wash with soap and water
- Eyes – rinse with thoroughly with water
- Mouth – spit out and repeatedly rinse with water
- Seeking Medical Treatment from a qualified professional
- Notifying (where appropriate) friends, family, colleagues of the exposure to minimise risk to them, eg. Cold and Flu exposure.
All exposure incidents should be reported to PHM Health using the online Incident Report.
Wear latex/rubber gloves and enclosed footwear and wipe the area immediately with paper towelling. Then clean the area with water and detergent or a suitable disinfectant such as sodium hypochlorite (bleach).
Small spots or drops of blood or body fluids can be removed immediately by wiping the area with a damp cloth, tissue or paper towelling. A disposable alcohol wipe can also be used.
Large spills in a ‘wet’ area eg. a bathroom or toilet area
Wear latex/rubber gloves and enclosed footwear. The spill should be carefully washed down and the area flushed with water and detergent.
After the area is cleaned and if there is a possibility of bare skin contact with the surface, the area should be disinfected with sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or another equivalent acting disinfectant.
Large spills in ‘dry’ areas
Wear latex/rubber gloves and enclosed footwear. The area should be cleaned and disinfected and the area of the spill contained.
A scraper and pan should be used to remove any absorbed material. The area of the spill should then be cleaned with a mop and bucket of water with sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or another equivalent acting disinfectant. The bucket and mop should be thoroughly cleaned after use and stored dry.