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Influenza Guidelines for Businesses

Personal Protection

Interim Guidelines for Personal Protection and Using Personal Protective Equipment During an Influenza Pandemic

The interim guidelines for personal protection (outlined in the next textblock below) have been developed as part of the national health emergency planning for a potential influenza pandemic.

The recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) and general infection prevention and control measures apply to health care workers and first responders such as ambulance, police, fire and other frontline services.

The general infection prevention and control measures also apply to the general public.

 

Minimising the Spreading of Infection

Quicklinks

Social Distancing

Try to keep well people and sick people apart. Stay home if you are sick and keep away from other people. Avoid visitors and avoid visiting other people.

Crowded places and large gatherings of people should be avoided at times of an influenza pandemic, whether such gatherings are in internal or external spaces.

A distance of at least 1 metre should be maintained between persons wherever possible. Greater distances are more effective.

Any form of contact with people who are unwell with pandemic influenza, including visiting, should be avoided wherever practicable.

Keep coughs and sneezes covered

Keep coughs and sneezes covered. Tissues are best. Put the tissue in a rubbish bin. Wash and dry your hands after you cough, sneeze, wipe or blow your nose (or your child's nose), use the bathroom or toilet.

Give plenty to drink

Give people who have a fever and/or diarrhoea plenty to drink.

Keep and use your home emergency survival kit

Give Paracetamol for fever. Do not give aspirin to children under 12.

Hand Hygiene

Wash and dry your hands before you prepare food and eat, and when you are looking after sick people.

Hand washing is still the single most important measure to reduce the risks of transmitting infectious organisms from one person to another.

Hands should be washed regularly with soap and water, an alcohol-based hand rub or an antiseptic hand wash and then thoroughly dried, preferably using disposable tissues or towels.

Hands should always be washed and dried after contact with respiratory secretions or after touching surfaces that have been contaminated with respiratory secretions. Health care workers dealing with respiratory secretions should be wearing gloves as per the Standard Precautions. See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Standard Precautions Webpage

Hand-to-face contact, which occurs during such activities as eating, normal grooming or smoking, presents significant risks because of the potential for transmitting influenza from surfaces contaminated with respiratory secretions, and for this reason, hands should always be washed and dried before any activity that involves hand-to-face contact.

Other Hygiene (including: Washing and Cleaning)

Sharing bedding, clothing and utensils may spread infection, but you do not need to wash a sick persons bedding, clothing and utensils separately from the rest of the family's.

Respiratory Hygiene/cough Etiquette

People with respiratory infection symptoms should practise the following cough/sneeze etiquette whenever they are in the presence of another person.

All symptomatic people should:

  • Avoid close contact (less than 1 metre) with other people
  • Cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Use disposable tissues to contain respiratory secretions
  • Immediately dispose of used tissues in the nearest waste receptacle
  • Immediately wash and dry their hands

Protective Barriers

Protective barriers in the form of perspex or glass may provide useful protection for people such as front-counter staff, supermarket operators or public transport drivers, whose duties require them to have frequent face-to-face contact with members of the public where social distancing is either not possible or not practical.

Using Masks

People with respiratory infection symptoms should consider using a disposable surgical mask to help prevent exposing others to their respiratory secretions.

Any mask must be disposed of as soon as it becomes moist or after any cough or sneeze, in an appropriate waste receptacle, and hands must be thoroughly washed and dried after the used mask has been discarded.

Patients with respiratory infection symptoms in health care institutions should be masked to contain respiratory secretions at any time they present a potential risk to unprotected people.

Using Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Personal protection equipment (PPE) includes masks, goggles, eye/face shields, gloves, gowns and aprons. Varying levels and types of PPE are required, depending on the level of exposure and the risk of transmission.

Whatever the level of PPE to be used, education and training is necessary to ensure the equipment is used and disposed of correctly, to maintain the equipments effectiveness.

Using disposable surgical masks, gloves and gowns/aprons

Disposable surgical masks are recommended for first responders and health care/support workers in a health care setting who are at risk from droplet transmission.

Disposable gloves are recommended as a means of reducing the likelihood of influenza transmission when handling objects contaminated with respiratory secretions. Apart from health care settings, the use of gloves is less important than careful hand washing. The use of gloves does not replace the need for hand washing.

Disposable gowns or splash resistant aprons may also reduce opportunities for transmitting influenza. However, it may not always be practical to use gowns/aprons outside the health care setting.

Using particulate respirator masks, eye protection, gloves and gowns/aprons (full PPE)

Health care workers should wear particulate respirator masks, eye protection, gloves and gowns/aprons (i.e. full PPE) when there is a high risk of direct contact with respiratory secretions, particularly via aerosols. This will apply mostly in inpatient settings during some invasive procedures.

In most other settings a disposable surgical mask (with or without eye protection and disposable gloves) will provide sufficient protection from droplet transmission for health care workers in close contact and/or providing direct personal care to patients with pandemic influenza.

 

Summary of Protection Measures

Protection measure Where applicable
Hand hygiene, cough etiquette, ventilation Everyone, all the time
Organisational policies Every organisation, all the time
Social distancing Everyone, whenever practical
Protective barriers In situations where regular work practice requires unavoidable, relatively close contact with the public
Disposable surgical mask Workers in any community or health care setting who are caring for the sick (this includes first responders)
Also as a possible adjunct to protective barriers
Disposable particulate respirator mask, eye protection, gloves, gown/apron Health care workers participating directly in close contact patient care when there is a high risk of contact with respiratory secretions, particularly via aerosols (mostly inpatient settings).

Using the above measures helps comply with the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

For more information visit www.cdc.gov/flu

See also:

Standard Precautions:
www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/gl_isolation_standard.html
Droplet Precautions:
www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/gl_isolation_droplet.html

 

Archived Health Tips

Please note, we are aware that the current listing is incomplete, but we will endeavour that in future all upcoming health tips will feature in the archives once the month has expired.

Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 requires the following measures to be taken.

Section 6: All practicable steps

Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to:

  • provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment
  • provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health ...

Section 28: Employees may refuse to perform work likely to cause serious harm

  • An employee may refuse to do work if the employee believes that the work that the employee is required to perform is likely to cause serious harm to him or her ...."

Employers must take all practicable steps to mitigate the risk and protect employees, especially those at high risk, such as health care personnel, support staff and first responders (fire/police/ambulance/other emergency workers) from pandemic influenza.

These workers should be educated in hand hygiene, cough etiquette, social distancing and the use of appropriate PPE and should be provided with the supplies required to carry out these techniques. Employers need to actively plan to cover their risks and the risks to their workers and the public.

 

Respiratory Disease Policies

Organisations of all kinds should have effective policies and processes in place to ensure people with symptoms of respiratory disease do not place others at risk of infection. For workplaces, such policies can include sending ill people home and enabling staff to work in more isolated settings, such as from home, during times of influenza outbreak.

 

Ventilation of Internal Spaces

There is scientific and medical evidence that influenza can spread in inadequately ventilated internal spaces. All internal spaces should be well ventilated, preferably with fresh air, by opening windows, or with properly designed and maintained air-conditioning systems.

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protection equipment (PPE) includes masks, goggles, eye/face shields, gloves, gowns and aprons. Varying levels and types of PPE are required, depending on the level of exposure and the risk of transmission.

Whatever the level of PPE to be used, education and training is necessary to ensure the equipment is used and disposed of correctly, to maintain the equipments effectiveness.

 

First Responders

It is important to provide PPE to first 'responders', and to educate and train them in appropriate PPE use, as well as ensuring they know how to use general infection prevention and control strategies. First responders include ambulance, police and fire staff, as well as other workers responding to emergencies as part of their work and coming into close contact with cases of pandemic influenza.