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 basic measures to prevent transmission of infection, including proper application and use and should be able to assess each item when 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 .

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

PPE consists of several items of equipment including:

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

To reduce the risk of transmission of infectious agents, PPE must be used correctly. Training staff in the correct use of 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.

Selection and use of PPE guidance can be found in the SA Health Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Selection Policy Guideline (PDF860KB).

The following resources have been developed and adapted from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMR) Australian Guidelines for Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) infection prevention and control information and resources:

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.

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 PPE in the following settings:

Particulate filter respirators (PFR) (P2/N95 or equivalent)

PFRs 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 PFR are properly fitted and trained in its safe use.

A correctly fitted PFR should be used when:

  • attending to patients with suspected or confirmed infectious diseases of which airborne spread has been risk assessed as possible
  • performing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) on patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection.

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

In July 2020, SA Health introduced a new PFR which is equivalent to P2/N95 respirators.  The D95 respirator was designed in partnership with SA Health to match workforce needs and are locally produced.

To find out how to correctly use the D95 PFR, see the D95 Respirator donning and doffing respirator mask instructions (PDF 1.3M) or watch the donning, doffing and fit check instructional video.

Further information

For further information protection from infections, contact the SA Health Infection Control Service.