Staff protection from infections

Healthcare infection (HAI) can occur in any setting and infection prevention measures are applied to protect both patients and staff. The basic measures to prevent transmission of infection from patients to staff include:

Under current workforce health and safety legislation – Work Health and Safety Regulations, 2012 (SA), it is the responsibility of each healthcare worker to be familiar with and comply with these protective measures at all times when there is an identified risk of exposure.

Work related exposures to an infection risk should be managed in accordance with the SA Health Prevention and Responding to Work Related Exposure to Infectious Diseases Policy Guideline (PDF 672KB).

All clinical staff should be trained in their proper application and use, and should be able to assess when each item is required for the task at hand. Most healthcare facilities will have posters and signage to assist staff in the correct selection of PPE when required.

Training

Training staff in the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) helps to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious agents when used appropriately. Information should be available to staff regarding the selection and use of PPE as part of this training.  A suite of educational videos created by Adelaide Health Simulation at the University of Adelaide provide guidance in implementing:

  • airborne, contact and droplet precautions
  • hand sanitising
  • hand washing.

Correct use of PPE

Training tools aim to provide information regarding staff training in the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Where required the training tool may be used to streamline theP2/N95 respirator (or equivalent) fit testing process. Refer to the following training tools:

Training staff in the correct use of PPE helps to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious agents when used appropriately.

The Australian Government Department of Health with Professor Alison McMillan Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer have developed a suite of educational video resources for the current pandemic situation demonstrating how to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in various settings:

Personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) consists of several items of equipment including: 

  • gloves
  • gowns
  • aprons
  • eye protection (including goggles, safety glasses and face shields)
  • masks
  • P2/N95 respirators (or equivalent).

Detailed information regarding the selection and use of PPE can be found in the SA Health Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Selection Policy Guideline (PDF 860KB).

To reduce the risk of transmission of infectious agents, personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used appropriately. Resources have been developed and adapted from the NHMRC Australian Guidelines for Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare

The Sequence for donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) Personal Protective Equipment A3 poster (PDF 240KB) and Personal Protective Equipment infographic (PDF 1.52MB) should be displayed to assist staff in this procedure.

P2/N95 Respirator (or equivalent)

P2/N95 respirators (or equivalent) is required to be fitted to each staff member individually using an approved fit testing method (refer to Australian standards AS/NZ 1715:2009).  It is essential that staff required to wear a P2/N95 respirator (or equivalent) are properly fitted and trained in its safe use.

A correctly fitted P2/N95 disposable respirator should be used when:

  • attending to patient with confirmed or suspected highly infectious airborne diseases
  • performing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) on patient with a known or suspected respiratory infection or other disease transmitted via the airborne route. 

Refer to the SA Health Respiratory Protection Against Airborne Infectious Diseases Clinical Guideline (PDF 836KB) for more information

In July 2020, SA Health introduced the D95+ respirator mask. This is equivalent to the P2/N95 surgical respirator masks currently in use. These locally produced respirators have been designed in partnership with SA Health so they match the needs of our workforce.

You can learn more about the new D95+ Respirator in these Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 956KB). To find out how to correctly use the mask, see the Donning and doffing respirator mask instructions (PDF 439KB) or watch the instructional video.


Further information

For further information protection from infections, contact HealthICS@sa.gov.au.