Germs and infections

Diseases, such as mumps, chicken pox, or the flu, are spread through the air when infected people cough, sneeze or speak.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and others can be exposed to infection in 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. 

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:

  • Ensure workers wash their hands regularly.
  • Clean and disinfect spills.
  • Practise cough etiquette and encourage workers and others to do the same.
  • Provide personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
  • Dispose of tissues and other rubbish effectively.
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are unwell.
  • Provide vaccinations to workers. 

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 

Ministry of Health(external link)

WorkSafe Victoria | Information about infectious disease(external link)