HEALTH, SAFETY & OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENE
Bio HazardsBiological agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. Bacteria include microorganisms that live in soil, water, air, plants, insects and animals. Viruses are submicroscopic packages of DNA (and RNA) that require a living cell to reproduce. Fungi or mould, are microscopic in size and grow on organic materials where moisture is present. Protozoa are single-celled microscopic animals, which include amoebas, flagellates, ciliates, sporozoans that can be parasites and cause diseases.
Infections and DiseaseAnimals and plants can become infected by pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms. When infected, these microorganisms invade and effectively form colonies in the body. When this impacts on the individual’s health a disease occurs. Diseases spread when they are able to survive and multiply in an environment. Diseases causing agents (pathogens) can be spread in air, by contact and vectors such as other animals.
Helia’s occupational hygienist can help your organisation with risk assessment and management by considering how infectious the disease agent is, the exposure route, how survivable the agent is, the susceptibility of the host, what treatment is available and what protection is possible.
Airborne Biological Agents can be sampled using impactors, spore traps, plates, impingers and filters. Helia can also assist with monitoring to determine contamination from rodent and bird infestations, before and after remediation.
Advice on Minimising Risk and Control
Helia’s Occupational Hygiene professionals can advise on controlling risk using the hierarchy of controls through elimination, substitution, engineering, administration and procedural controls. For example removing the agent, substituting water cooled for air cooled systems, training and awareness and personal protective equipment.
The Most Common Bio Hazards
Fungal growth that requires moisture / water to grow and poor environmental workplace conditions. Health effects range from no reaction through to invasive fungal diseases and allergic responses
Often found in cooling towers and are an inhalation risk, but are not know to pass from person to person. Areas of risk include cooling towers, water systems, humidifiers and hot tubes, sprinkler systems and fountains.
Examples of blood borne diseases include Hepatitis A and C as well as HIV.
Zoonoses are infections transmitted from animals to humans. These generally affect people who work with animals for e.g., veterinarians or agricultural workers.
Often transmitted from wild and domestic animals can cause health issues through contact and inhalation.
Anthrax is a risk to agricultural workers, abattoirs, animals products (processing), vets and other associated industries. These bacteria live in the soil and cause skin and lung disease, such as Well’s disease.
Hendra virus is an emerging zoonotic virus associated with horses and flying foxes that can be fatal.