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Controlling Infection in the Workplace

Controlling Infection in the Workplace

Infections are caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa, which enter your body. However, it can take some time until the symptoms of the illness begin to kick in. 

One of the places where infections are most likely spread is your workplace.

 According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004), the employees in a particular workplace are required to be provided with a safe and secure environment to work in where there is adequate control of infections through various preventive procedures.

There are many ways through which an infection can be transmitted, some of them include:

Skin contact – pathogens can be transferred through touch or from touching an infected person’s personal items such as clothing.

Sometimes when you use an item that was recently touched by an infected colleague, such as his desk, computer, keyboard, or pen, chances are that you might incur the infection too

Airborne – germs can be transmitted through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs as the same air is inhaled by office colleagues.

Contact with body fluids – an infected person’s blood, urine, feces, and saliva will contain the pathogens causing the infections, thus affecting a person who comes in contact with these fluids

Personal hygiene guidelines

You can reduce your risk of incurring an infection with the following procedures:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. You can reduce the spread of pathogens by regular hand washing. Take at least 15 seconds to wash your hands after you’ve used the toilet, before you eat or prepare food or after touching an infected person or his or her equipment. Make sure you always dry your hands with disposable paper towels and not share a towel with other office members.

  • Cover your wounds. Broken skin is an invitation to pathogens in your environment therefore; make sure that you cover your cuts with waterproof dressing. Ensure that your office provides a first aid kit whenever necessary.

  • Use gloves. Make sure you use gloves if you are handling another person’s wounds. Wash your hands between each client and use fresh gloves.

  • Avoid sharing personal items. These include towels, razors, clothing, shoes, toothbrushes and combs.

Food preparation in your office

  • Even if you are within the boundaries of your office, you must make sure you practice safe eating techniques and encourage staff members to do the same.

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing and consuming food

  • Make sure the food is kept at the desired temperature – hot food needs to be hot and cold needs to be cod

  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth or hair while handling food

  • Wash utensils with hot water and detergent after you’ve used them

Workplace cleanliness

It is important to ensure that you are working in a clean environment so that your risk of infection is effectively reduced. Make sure the following are taken care of in the office:

  • Floors, tables, bench tops and bathroom surfaces are washed regularly with hot water and detergent

  • Mops, clothes, brushes and other cleaning tools are thoroughly washed and dried after use

  • The ceiling and walls are washed from time to time

  • Disinfectants are used to clean blood and other bodily fluids off the floor

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