Welcome back! This week, I’m here to tell you all about Biological Hazards and the threat they may pose to you in the workplace.
I will help you understand what they are, where they are found and how transmission can be prevented.
“What is a biological hazard?”
Yes, brilliant question. Well, a biological hazard or “biohazard” is a term used to describe any micro-organism, cell or human endo-parasite that can cause any kind of harm to your health. To you and I, it is a general term for bugs and germs.
Biohazards can be found in anything from bacteria and viruses to insects, plants, birds, animals and even humans.
Is your workplace a worry?
You may be unaware, but your place of work could be a breeding ground for biohazards.
It’s important for you to be able to identify biohazards and their different characteristics in order for you to implement the various rigorous control measures and procedures that will significantly reduce the risk of infection to yourself and those around you.
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
Rife in hospitals and health care facilities MRSA is bacteria carried on the skin that usually develops in the elderly or very poorly patients with open wounds.
It is spread by direct physical contact with a carrier of the bacteria or handling items such as contaminated towels, sheets and wound dressings.
Do you work in a hospital? Make sure you practice good hygiene at all times by keeping your hands as clean as possible, ensure all cuts and sores are kept clean and dressed until properly healed and avoid direct contact with other people’s wounds or contaminated objects. Personal protective equipment is your safest bet if you are unsure of any situation.
Responsible for Legionnaires’ disease, a severe pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a mild flu-like illness, the bacterium Legionella thrives in any aquatic environment.
The air-conditioning tower used to make your workplace nice and cool, the water cooler in the office and the hot water tanks helping you make your daily brew are all typical environments where Legionella could thrive.
It’s important that all these systems are thoroughly cleaned and inspected with any corroded parts being completely replaced on a regular basis. Hot water tank systems should be flushed out to prevent water stagnating.
An infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), Hepatitis A varies in clinical severity and can be found in the faeces of infected people.
Spread under poor sanitary conditions and lack of personal hygiene, people can also get hepatitis A by drinking infected water or eating raw and undercooked shellfish. You wouldn’t think it but fruit and vegetables can be contaminated during handling.
Work places should provide educational programmes about personal hygiene practices, emphasising how important careful hand washing is to help with the prevention of the disease. Protective clothing should also be worn in some environments, ensuring it is removed and cleaned or disposed of at the end of each shift.
Similar to Hepatitis A, this biohazard is also an infectious liver disease. It can be found in blood and body fluids and tissues.
Risk of Hepatitis B varies depending on the work place. As always, I recommend thorough risk assessments in all situations to decide whether vaccinations are a priority for you and your workers.
Producing an illness similar to tuberculosis called Histoplasmosis, this fungus thrives in moderate temperatures and moist environments. Droppings from chickens, pigeons, starlings, blackbirds and bats encourage its growth. When multiplied the fungus produces spores, small enough to enter the lungs after inhalation.
A little Jangro Genius tip for you when cleaning contaminated areas is to spray with water first. This reduces the amount of dust and decreases the chance on inhalation or ingestion.
Personal protection equipment such as gloves and overalls is necessary in this kind of working environment.
Oh, what a pest!
Here is a round up of some of the most common, biohazard spreading pests as well as advice on what to look out for and what you can do to reduce risk to your employees.
Now you know…
Phew, getting to grips with different biohazards is tough work!
Biohazards may seem a little daunting, but once you know what they are and the best ways to handle them there really should be nothing to worry about.
If you’re unsure about any of the above biohazards or have any questions you can visit me on my social media pages.