Legal Article - Health & Safety

Health and Safety: Illness and Contamination in the Workplace

As part of the overall risk assessment employers should try to identify work practices where employees or the public may come into contact with infected body fluids, especially blood (e.g. vehicle recovery operations, first aide’s and valeting operators).

The employer then has a responsibility to inform and train those specific employees in how to reduce the risk of becoming infected and to provide any necessary personal protective equipment (e.g. disposable or heavy PVC gloves and overalls).

In general this risk is likely to arise from accidents and their treatment. The usual good hygiene practices adopted to prevent the spread of infection generally will be sufficient to prevent infection by the AID’s virus.

There is generally no obligation on individuals to disclose their infection or to submit to medical tests for the virus. Anything which can be interpreted as an inquisition into an employee’s personal life-style should be avoided.

If an employee is known to be infected there may be rare circumstances in which it would be appropriate either for their own safety, or the safety of others, to consider a move to alternative duties.

Knowledge of their infection should, however, be treated in confidence and disclosed to others only with the employee’s permission except where, on the basis of medical advice, it is necessary to protect the safety of others.

Employee confidentiality is essential when dealing with an issue of a sensitive nature, such as this.

Published: 21 Mar 2011

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