Blood-borne viruses (BBVs) can present an occupational health risk at work, depending on the type of job you do. It is important that employers recognise the ways in which blood-borne viruses can be transmitted in the workplace.
Any procedure in which there is a risk of blood transfer (eg surgery, dentistry, venepuncture, acupuncture, body-piercing, tattooing) will require risk control and safe working practises. Precautions are also required to prevent transmission of blood-borne viruses from patients/clients to workers and vice-versa in the course of invasive procedures. It is important that decontamination practices are adequate and are applied scrupulously.
Local government and sector-specific risk assessments have also identified that the following occupational groups may be at increased risk of exposure to sharps injury and associated BBV exposure (It is therefore recommend that they be considered for immunisation against HBV, should a local, work-related risk assessment and occupational health advice support this):
- tattooists and body piercers;
- beauticians and hairdressers;
- local authority services, eg refuse disposal and street cleaners;
- needle exchange service staff; and
- those in professional and semi-professional contact sports
Designated first-aiders in any occupational setting might be at increased risk.