Workplace infectious disease prevention

Minimising the spread of infectious diseases in the workplace is important to keeping staff safe and well at work.

What is required under the Health and Safety at Work Act

Any infectious disease encountered in the workplace is considered a workplace hazard.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires that employers take all practicable steps to mitigate risk and protect workers at all times from workplace hazards.

Ways to protect your workplace

There are a number of actions employers can take to minimise the risk of spreading of infectious diseases in the workplace:

  • Encourage workers to follow the basic personal actions to stop the spread of infectious diseases. This includes:
    • get immunised against infectious diseases
    • wash and dry hands regularly and well
    • stay at home if they are sick
    • cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Provide immunisations to workers (such as the seasonal influenza vaccine.) Read about how to get immunised.
  • Provide appropriate protection to staff who, by the nature of their work, may be required to have contact with people who are sick (for example, health care workers).

Keep workplaces clean

Key cleaning tips

  • Schedule regular cleaning.
  • Use a suitable cleaning product.
  • Use disposable cloths, if available.
  • Clean air-conditioning units.

Regular cleaning of the workplace environment will minimise the spread of infection by reducing workers' contact with contaminated surfaces.

Workplace environments vary greatly so it is important to consider your particular work environment and what is frequently used and touched by workers, customers and others.

Clean surfaces with a suitable cleaner and/ or disinfectant and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. When choosing a suitable cleaning product, consider what the product is effective against and the length of time the product needs to be left on a surface to clean it properly.

Where possible, use disposable cloths to clean surfaces. Reusable cloths should be cleaned, disinfected and then dried after use.

Ensure appropriate equipment is available for workers to wash and dry their hands. Read more about good hand washing.

Ensure good ventilation

Enclosed spaces can increase the spread of infectious diseases. Employers should ensure air conditioning systems are well maintained. It is advisable that air conditioning systems do not re-circulate air and are vented to the outside as much as possible.

If the workplace does not have an air conditioning system, open windows regularly to get fresh air circulating.

Plan for outbreaks and pandemics

You should consider what extra measures you can take to protect workers in a pandemic, and put appropriate plans in place.

Read our guidance for preparing your workplace for a outbreak or pandemic and how to keep your business operating:

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