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Infectious Diseases Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose

(1) The purpose of this policy is to minimise the risk of transmission of infectious diseases to the University community as far as reasonably practicable and to manage persons who have contracted an infectious disease.

(2) The intent of this policy is to

  1. promote and protect the health and well being of staff, students and visitors (including the general public, volunteers, contractors, sub-contractors and their employees) while they are on Charles Sturt University (University) premises or engaged in University work or study at other premises; and
  2. provide a learning and employment environment that is free of discrimination and harassment, and supportive of productivity, academic achievement and the dignity and self-esteem of every staff member and student.

Scope

(3) This policy applies to all University staff and students.

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Section 2 - Glossary

(4) Nil.

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Section 3 - Policy

(5) This policy was previously called the HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Policy. It has been expanded to cover all infectious diseases.

Principles

(6) The University has a duty of care to provide and maintain a healthy and safe environment, free of discrimination, for all staff, students, visitors and contractors using its facilities or providing the University with services.

(7) The University recognises that, while most work and study situations within the University pose little risk of infectious transmission, there are some staff and students who have a higher risk of contracting an infectious disease because of the nature of their work/study environment and/or activities.

(8) The University is committed to:

  1. taking appropriate steps to prevent or minimise the risk of infection posed by transmission of infectious diseases from a person, animal or research material to any other person;
  2. promoting informed awareness, tolerance and understanding in relation to infectious diseases by disseminating and publicising up-to-date information widely throughout the University community;
  3. promoting preventative measures such as immunisation and standard precautions for dealing with infectious diseases;
  4. protecting the rights of staff and students who have an infectious disease and ensuring confidentiality and privacy for any person who discloses an infectious disease in the course of providing or using the services of the University;
  5. taking all reasonable steps to accommodate staff and students who are living with an infectious disease; and
  6. ensuring that staff and students who have an infectious disease are not subjected to unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Relevant Legislation

(9) The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) makes it generally unlawful to discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS by virtue of their:

  1. disability (the definition of which includes any organism in the body that could cause a disease or illness, and encompasses past, present, imputed and future disability;
  2. homosexuality (actual or presumed); or
  3. race, nationality or ethnic background, or transgender.

(10) It is unlawful to discriminate on any of these grounds in employment or when providing accommodation, education or goods and services.

(11) Types of HIV/AIDS related discrimination include:

  1. discrimination against people who are HIV positive or have an HIV related illness, or who have AIDS;
  2. discrimination against homosexuals or people assumed to be homosexual because it is assumed they have AIDS;
  3. discrimination against people with haemophilia;
  4. discrimination against intravenous drug users;
  5. discrimination against people from certain ethnic groups because it is assumed they are more likely to have AIDS.

(12) It is also unlawful to discriminate against a person on the ground of their being a parent, partner, carer or associate of an HIV positive person or a person with hepatitis.

(13) The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (C'th) requires all persons conducting a business or undertaking to ensure the health and safety of its workers, so far as is reasonably practicable, by eliminating risks to health and safety. If this is not reasonably practicable, risks must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. Persons conducting a business or undertaking owe a similar duty of care to other people who may be at risk from work carried out by the business or undertaking. The Act also confers a responsibility on employees to act with regard for the health and safety of any person in the workplace, and to comply with workplace requirements imposed by health and safety legislation.

(14) The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (C'th) makes it generally unlawful to discriminate against a person because:

  1. they have an illness or disease-causing organism present in their body; or
  2. they have organisms capable of causing disease or illness present in their body.

(15) The Public Health Act 2010 imposes an obligation of confidentiality on a medical practitioner or other person who, in the course of providing a service, obtains information about another person's HIV status or decision to be tested for HIV. The obligation extends to taking all reasonable steps to ensure such information is not disclosed to another person.

Responsibilities

(16) The Vice-Chancellor has overall responsibility for ensuring that the University meets its legislative requirements for providing a safe and non-discriminatory place of work and study.

(17) The Executive Director, Human Resources, with the assistance of the Manager, Work Health and Safety and the Manager, Diversity and Equity, is responsible for:

  1. approving and promoting this Policy and it's Procedure;
  2. providing the University with authoritative and up-to-date information and training on:
    1. infectious diseases and their prevention and control;
    2. staff and students' rights and responsibilities in relation to infectious diseases; and
    3. equal opportunity and discrimination issues; and
  3. promoting and monitoring the reporting of Work Health and Safety incidents, including individual exposures to blood, body fluids and other infectious material, and conducting investigations into the reported incidents.

(18) The Dean of Students, with the assistance of the Health Promotions Officer and Student Counsellors, is responsible for:

  1. providing information sessions, campaigns and education programs to promote good health and wellbeing to students;
  2. providing counselling services for students;
  3. providing relevant information and health advice to students about the prevention and control of infectious diseases, including immunisation requirements for students who have clinical placements in public health facilities; and
  4. providing access to health and allied services in the general community.

(19) Executive managers, managers and supervisors are responsible for:

  1. determining any activities that may place staff and students at risk of acquiring an infectious disease during the course of their work or study, including completing a risk assessment of hazards and determining relevant controls to eliminate or mitigate the risk;
  2. managing health and safety risks in each area of responsibility, including completing a risk assessment of hazards and determining relevant controls to eliminate or mitigate the risk;
  3. ensuring that affected staff and students undertake any necessary training to esnure their safety and reduce the risk of acquiring or transmitting an infectious disease;
  4. ensuring that all incidents that may place staff, students or others at risk of infection are investigated, recorded and reported to the Manager, Work Health and Safety, in accordance with the University's Work Health and Safety procedures; and
  5. ensuring that staff or students who have been affected by an incident involving exposure to blood, body fluids or other infectious material are provided with appropriate first aid and have access to medical services.

(20) The Biosafety Committee is responsible for:

  1. developing, promulgating, maintaining and auditing compliance with the University's Biosafety Manual, which incorporates guidelines, policies and procedures that are intended to minimise the risk of infection or injury arising from contact with biohazardous material;
  2. approving research proposals involving the use of genetic manipulation techniques or virulent or toxic organisms or substances; and
  3. inspecting, reporting on and recommending improvements for containment facilities.

(21) All Charles Sturt University Schools and Centres working with biohazardous material are responsible for:

  1. developing their own Standard Operating Procedures that are consistent with the requirements outlined in the Biosafety Manual, and then referring these procedures to the Biosafety Committee for consideration, to ensure consistency across the University;
  2. ensuring that a risk management approach is undertaken prior to activities involving the risk of exposure to any biohazardous or infectious material; and
  3. implementing all practicable steps to protect staff and students, including provision of appropriate clothing and equipment as required and provision of information, instructions, training and supervision in procedures and standard precautions for using or handling blood, body fluids or other infectious material.

(22) All staff and students are responsible for:

  1. complying with legislative requirements and University policies relating to Work Health and Safety and anti-discrimination, and following health and safety procedures that apply to their work or study;
  2. using standard precautions when handling potentially infectious material;
  3. reporting incidents involving exposure to blood, bodily fluids or other infectious material;
  4. reporting any breaches relating to Work Health and Safety to their immediate supervisor and the Manager, Work Health and Safety;
  5. reporting any breaches relating to unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment or victimisation to their immediate supervisor (or more senior manager) and the Manager, Diversity and Equity, in accordance with the University's relevant Complaints Procedure for staff or students; and
  6. acting in a manner that does not place themselves or others at risk of contracting infectious diseases.

(23) All students who have enrolled in a course that requires clinical placements in public health facilities are responsible for:

  1. producing, on admission, evidence of immunisation against infectious diseases specified by the relevant regulatory authority; or otherwise
  2. completing a course of immunisation, in accordance with the NSW Health Policy Directive on Occupational Assessment, Screening and Vaccination against Specified Infectious Diseases.

(24) All staff and students with an infectious disease have a duty of care to minimise the risk of transmission to other members of the University community. Any breach of this duty of care may constitute negligence and lead to an action for damages to compensate for the harm suffered.

(25) All doctors, hospitals, laboratories, schools and child care centres are required to notify the local Public Health Unit of notifiable diseases within 24 hours of diagnosis. A list of notifiable diseases can be accessed through the following web links:

  1. NSW Health;
  2. ACT Health;
  3. Australian Government Department of Health;
  4. Public Health Agency of Canada;
  5. World Health Organisation.

Confidentiality and Privacy

(26) There is no general requirement for staff and students to inform the University if they have an infectious disease. However, in circumstances where the disease is likely to affect others, disclosure to the relevant manager is strongly encouraged for health and safety reasons.

(27) The University has a statutory responsibility to ensure the confidentiality of information about staff and students who have an infectious disease. All steps should be taken to ensure privacy and confidentiality in all situations related to infectious diseases.

(28) All notifications to the local Public Health Unit or the Communicable Diseases Branch, of the health regulatory authority for the State/Territory/Province are strictly confidential.

(29) Improper breaches of confidence and the release of confidential information are illegal, may constitute discrimination, and may result in the lodgement of a complaint with the State/Territory Anti-Discrimination Board, Human Rights Commission or Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

(30) Personal and counselling records are to be treated with strict confidentiality and stored or archived securely.

(31) Consent to disclose information must be obtained from the person to whom the information relates before it can be disclosed to other persons. NOTE: For example, disclosure of a person's HIV status may be defamatory.

Grievances

(32) The University has a Complaints Policy and Procedures for resolving grievances concerning unfair treatment, discrimination or harassment.

(33) Members of the University community wanting information or advice with regard to a complaint of discrimination or harassment should contact the Manager, Diversity and Equity.

Compliance

(34) Deliberate disregard for workplace health and safety and equal opportunity requirements may be the subject of action under the Staff Misconduct clause in the University's Enterprise Agreement or the Student General Misconduct Rule.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(35) Refer to the Infectious Diseases Procedure.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(36) Nil.