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:
- performing hand hygiene according to the '5 moments' which protect staff as well as patients
- wearing of correct personal protective equipment in accordance with standard and additional transmission-based precautions
- maintaining immunity through vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases (PDF 149KB)
- safe handling and disposal of sharps
- safe handling of linen, waste and blood & body fluid spills
- practicing good hand and respiratory hygiene.
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).
Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) consists of several items of equipment including:
- eye and face shields
- surgical face masks
- high filtration masks (P2 or N95 respirators).
Detailed information regarding the selection and use of PPE can be found in the SA Health Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Selection Policy Guideline.
- SA Health staff should access and complete the safe use of PPE e-learning module (available on the SA Health intranet).
- Non-SA Health staff can refer to the training tool for correct use of PPE and respiratory mask fit testing (PDF 137KB)
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.
P2 (or N95) respirators are required to be fitted to each staff member individually using an approved fit testing method (refer to Australian standards AS/NZ 1715:2009). Staff should be trained in their use and how to perform a 'fit check' each time the respirator is worn. Only those staff who are required to perform aerosol-generating procedures as part of their normal duties are required to be fit tested. This will normally include those staff working in high risk areas such as emergency, respiratory and infectious diseases wards and intensive care units. More information can be found in the SA Health Respiratory Protection Guideline (PDF 252KB).
Correct way to wear respirators
Several resources are available to assist staff in understanding the correct way to apply personal protective equipment, including a DVD which was developed for use in a pandemic situation, but contains much information applicable to routine situations.
For further information protection from infections, contact SA Health's Infection Control Service.