Workers can be exposed to germs, infections, and infestation in many ways, depending on the nature of the work. A common way for infections to be transmitted is through poor hygiene practices.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and others can be exposed to infection in a number of different ways, including: 

  • Airborne infections – which are spread through the air when infected people cough, sneeze, or speak. Air-conditioning can escalate the spread of the infection.
  • Contact infections – which are transmitted through direct or indirect contact with bacteria or viruses. Direct contact can include physical contact with an infected person or contact with blood and body fluids.
  • Indirect contact infections – which involve touching an object or surface that has been contaminated by an infected person or contaminated material. 

What you can do

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Have an infection control plan.
  • Clean and disinfect spills.
  • Provide clean hand-washing facilities, and/or offer waterless alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
  • Practise cough etiquette and encourage workers and others to do the same.
  • Dispose of tissues and other rubbish effectively.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves and face masks.
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are unwell.
  • Provide vaccinations to workers.
  • Clean surfaces at least daily, but clean frequently touched areas more often – for example escalator handrails, elevator control panels, and doorknobs.
  • Carry out regular pest control.
  • Monitor workers' health.
  • Make sure ventilation systems are working properly.  

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Get your workers involved

  • Ensure your workers know how to make suggestions, ask questions or raise concerns.
  • Always ask your workers for input on identifying health and safety risks and how to eliminate or minimise them. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good decisions when they have been involved in the conversation. Your workers (including contractors and temps) are the eyes and ears of your business. They can help spot issues, and suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.
  • Always train your workers on what the key risks are and how to keep healthy and safe. 

Find out more about getting your workers involved

Where to go for more information 

Health and wellbeing programmes | Ministry of Education(external link)

Diseases and illnesses | Ministry of Health(external link)

Information about infectious diseases | WorkSafe Victoria(external link)