After the global pandemic hit at the start of 2020, people became more aware of infectious diseases and how to deal with it within the workplace. Covid 19 made people more cautious about their general hygiene and many construction sites implemented strategies to reduce any spread of infectious diseases. Any infectious disease encountered in the workplace is considered a workplace hazard.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 states that “every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employees”.

5 Main routes of transmission

Contact

The most common route of transmission in the workplace is by direct contact with an infected or contaminated surface or fluid. Or indirect contact with an object previously contaminated with organisms from an infected person or animal.

Droplet Transmission

Droplets are produced during couching, sneezing, talking and during other procedures such as suctioning. Droplets may carry infectious diseases or organisms that can infect the person it has come in contact with. This can happen if the droplets are deposited on conjunctivae, nasal mucosa, or the mouth. It is stated that droplets do not stay suspended in the air and do not travel more than one meter. That’s why during the Covid pandemic it was declared that social distancing of one and a half meter is required when in public.

Airborne Transmission

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, small airborne particles remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and have a far greater potential to spread diseases than large droplets. There are few infections diseases that spread in this manner, the most well-known disease is Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and viruses causing measles and chickenpox. Prevention for this transmission requires an enclosed area with at least six air changes per hour, or an open window that provides adequate ventilation.

Common Vehicle Transmission

Items that can transmit diseases, include food, water, devices and other equipment. Normal hygienic practices and proper sterilization of equipment should make this type of spread rare in certain workplaces.

Vector-Borne Transmission

Insects can also cause a spread of a disease or virus, these insects included mosquitoes, flies and fleas, however, it is not commonly encountered within a workplace.

Precautions

It is important to focus on the education and training of employees; to ensure that a system is in place and develop so that all employees and visitors are educated and use the precautions and that it is their responsibility to adhere to the precautions. Adhering to the precautions should be evaluated so that the finding could be used to implement improvements.

Common Hygiene practices should also be incorporated within the work area, such as having sanitation stations for workers to sanitize their hands, wearing the proper face mask when indoors and adhering to social distancing.

It is also the responsibility of the worker to inform the employee if they have been infected with a disease and have shown symptoms. The employee should not be present at work if they have become sick and should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and to receive treatment.

Your health and safety is our priority

We’re driven to make your site safe from incidents that could affect your business from continuing as normal.

Contact us to find out more:

Christof Lourens

CEO Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd

Tel: 012 346 5752 | Email: christof@cairnmead.co.za

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