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Infectious Diseases Procedure

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Section 1 - Purpose

(1) The purpose of this Procedure is to describe activities that may place staff and students at risk of exposure to infectious diseases as well as the prevention and control strategies used at Charles Sturt University (the University).


(2) This Procedure applies to all University staff and students.

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Section 2 - Glossary

(3) In this Procedure:

  1. Biohazards (or biological hazards) - refers to "infectious agents or hazardous biologic materials that present a risk or potential risk to the health of humans, animals or the environment. The risk can be direct through infection or indirect through damage to the environment;". (Reference: Public Health Emergency, US Department of Health and Human Services, Biosafety and Biocontainment FAQs). Examples of biohazards are medical waste or samples of a micro-organism, virus or toxin.
  2. Biosafety (or biological safety) - refers to "the application of knowledge, techniques and equipment to prevent personal, laboratory and environmental exposure to potentially infectious agents or biohazards. Biosafety defines the containment conditions under which infectious agents can be safely manipulated." (Reference: MedicineNet, Definition of Biosafety.)
  3. Incident - refers to an unplanned event resulting in, or having the potential for injury, ill-health, damage or other loss. The term "incident" will be used throughout this document and is synonymous with the term "accident" in relation to Work Health and Safety Management Systems.
  4. Infection control - refers to "the measures taken by public health physicians, epidemiologists, hospital infection control officers, and others to contain the spread of infections. These include promotion of hygiene (hand-washing), barrier techniques, disinfection, sterilization, isolation, quarantine, the use of prophylactic antibiotics, immunization, etc". (Reference: Last, JM, ed, 2007, A Dictionary of Public Health, Oxford University Press) "Infection control measures are based on how an infectious agent is transmitted and include standard, contact, droplet, and airborne precautions." (Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Glossary, USA)
  5. Infectious diseases (or communicable diseases) - refers to diseases that are "caused by pathogenic micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; the diseases can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another". (Reference: World Health Organization) A list of infectious diseases can be accessed through the NSW Department of Health web page (Reference: NSW Health, 2014, A to Z Infectious Diseases).
  6. Zoonotic diseases - refers to "infectious diseases of animals that can cause disease when transmitted to humans". (Reference: World Health Organization, Infectious Diseases)
  7. Notifiable diseases - refers to diseases that must be reported by doctors, hospital chief executive officers (or general managers), pathology laboratories, directors of child care centres and school principals to the local Public Health Unit or, in the case of HIV, by reference laboratories to the Communicable Diseases Branch, NSW Department of Health. (Reference: NSW Health, 2015, Disease Notification)

    Lists of notifiable diseases can be accessed through the following links:
    1. NSW - NSW Health, Disease Notifcation;
    2. ACT - Public Health Act 1997, Code of Practice 2006: Reporting of Notifiable Conditions;
    3. Australia - Department of Health, 2015, Australian National Notifiable Diseases and Case Definitions;
    4. Canada - Public Health Agency of Canada, 2015, Infectious Diseases;
    5. World - World Health Organization, Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases.
  8. Epidemic - refers to "the occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behaviour, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy. The community or region and the period in which the cases occur are specified precisely. The number of cases indicating the presence of an epidemic varies according to the agent, size, and type of population exposed, previous experience or lack of exposure to the disease, and time and place of occurrence." (Reference: World Health Organization, Definitions: Emergencies)
  9. Pandemic - refers to "an epidemic occurring world-wide or over a wide area, crossing boundaries of several countries, and usually affecting a large number of people". (Reference: World Health Organization, 2014, WHO Guidelines: Infection Prevention and Control of Epidemic- and Pandemic-Prone Acute Respiratory Infections in Health Care", p. xviii)
  10. Standard precautions - refers to "work practices required for the basic level of infection control. Standard precautions are recommended for the treatment and care of all patients, and apply to all body fluids, secretions and excretions (excluding sweat), regardless of whether they contain visible blood (including dried body substances such as dried blood or saliva), non-intact skin and mucous membranes. Standard precautions include good hygiene practices, particularly washing and drying hands before and after patient contact, use of protective barriers which include gloves, gowns, plastic aprons, masks, eye shields or goggles and appropriate handling and disposal of sharps and other contaminated or infectious waste and the use of aseptic technique". (Reference: Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, 2004, Approved Code of Practice for the Control of Work-Related Exposure to Hepatitis and HIV Viruses in Australian Government Employment, p. 7)
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Section 3 - Policy

(4) Refer to the Infectious Diseases Policy.

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Section 4 - Procedures

High Risk Activities

(5) Activities that may place staff and students at risk of exposure to infectious diseases are:

  1. any tasks involving contact with blood, body fluids or other infectious material, e.g. working with clients/patients in health care facilities, handling contaminated needles and syringes, administering first aid, cleaners in student residences, and some laboratory work;
  2. working with specimens of human or animal origin;
  3. outdoor work involving exposure to soil, potting mix, sewage, dirty tools, or used and discarded syringes;
  4. working with children, e.g. in childcare centres or health care facilities;
  5. bringing children with an infectious disease onto campus; and
  6. overseas travel related to University work or study.

(6) A comprehensive list of at-risk workplace locations is specified in the University's Biosafety Manual.

Prevention and Control Strategies

(7) Prevention and control strategies at the University include the following:

Table A: Information
Notices about pandemic alerts and University management protocols Division of People and Culture
Health promotion campaigns and information sessions Health Promotion Officer, Office for Students Division of People and Culture
Confidential advice about equal opportunity and discrimination issues, and legal rights and responsibilities re: infectious diseases Manager, Equity and Diversity
Table B: Risk Management
As per the University's Risk Management Policy and other relevant Division of Human Resources Work Health and Safety policies and procedures Office of Strategic Planning and Information Manager, Health Safety and Wellbeing
Table C: Training and Education
Staff development courses, staff inductions and student orientations include education programs on the transmission of infectious diseases and the legal rights and responsibilities of staff and students in the work and study place Office for Students Division of People and Culture
Education programs on equal opportunity and discrimination issues Manager, Equity and Diversity
Work Health and Safety training on request, and assistance for developing policies and procedures re: managing infectious diseases Manager, Health Safety and Wellbeing
Health education programs Health Promotion Officer, Office for Students
Course content of relevant undergraduate and postgraduate programs to adequately prepare students for professions where issues related to infection may arise Faculties and Schools
Table D: Immunisation
Facilitation of clinics on relevant campuses for Mantoux (tuberculosis) screening and Q fever vaccination Office for Students
Influenza vaccination programs for staff Manager, Health Safety and Wellbeing
Reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical expenses for staff members whose work requires them to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B (or other vaccinations identified as necessary to control the risk of infection to a biohazard) Relevant responsible area
Table E: Infection Control
Standard precautions and infection control procedures for staff and students whose work or study brings them into contact with blood, body fluids, tissue or other infectious material Schools and Centres working with biohazardous materials; cleaners working in student residences
Screening programs for Sexually Transmitted Infections Office for Students
Table F: Facilities to Minimise Social Transmission of Sexually Transmittable Diseases
Access to condoms, dams and lubricants on campus Office for Students Residential Advisers
Table G: Health and Counselling Services
First Aid Officers in work and study areas Division of People and Culture
Counselling for staff Employee Assistance Program
Counselling and confidential referrals to students for services such as blood tests, needle and syringe exchange, and support groups Office for Students
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Section 5 - Guidelines

(8) Nil.