Policy for Health Care Workers known to be Infected with Blood-borne Viruses

Applicable to:

Description: The purpose of this operational directive is to provide the Western Australian Department of Health’s policy to minimise the risk of transmission of a BBV from a HCW to a patient/client, a framework for managing and supporting HCWs with BBV infections and remind all HCWs of the need to be aware of their BBV status and risk, and to seek voluntary serological testing on a basis relative to their risk.

Policy for Health Care Workers known to be Infected with Blood-borne Viruses

 1.    SUMMARY

Health care workers (HCWs) are expected to protect the health and safety of their patients. This obligation includes preventing transmission of blood-borne viruses (BBVs) from themselves to their patients.  All HCWs should have access to regular confidential testing and appropriate treatment and management for BBVs, and HCWs who perform exposure-prone procedures (EPPs) should be encouraged and supported to undergo regular testing for BBVs.  While the protection of the public’s health is paramount, employers of HCWs must also consider, and comply with, relevant anti-discrimination, privacy, industrial relations and equal employment opportunity legislation.

HCWs and their employers should follow this Operational Directive and be aware of the potential impact of the BBV status of HCWs has on their practice. 

The Communicable Disease Control Directorate is responsible for convening an Expert Advisory Committee, if required, to assist in implementing this Operational Directive.

2.    POLICY

The Department of Health, Western Australia, endorses all recommendations of the Department of Health and Ageing’s Australian National Guidelines for the Management of Health Care Workers known to be Infected with Blood-Borne Viruses, 2012 (see Appendix).

3.    RELATED POLICIES

  1. Department of Health Operational Directive OD 0091/07, Management of Occupational Exposure to Blood and Body Fluids in the Health Care Setting, December 2007.

  2. Department of Health Operational Directive OD 0388/12. Health Care Worker Immunisation Protocol, September 2012.
     

 4.    RELATED LEGISLATION

WA Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984

  • Under the WA Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984, the Department of Health and privately owned health care facilities, as employers, have a legal obligation to provide and maintain a working environment in which their employees are not exposed to hazards.  The employer also has a duty to provide to the employees such information, instruction, training and supervision to enable them to perform their work in such a manner that they are not exposed to hazards.

  • HCWs, as employees, have a legal and professional obligation to “cooperate with the employer in the carrying out, by his employer, the obligations imposed on him under the Act”.  In addition, the employee shall take “reasonable care to ensure his own safety and health at work; and to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or omission at work”.

  • A self-employed person (e.g. under contract to the Department of Health) shall take “reasonable care to ensure his own safety and health at work; and, so far as is practicable, ensure that the safety and health of a person not being his employee is not adversely affected, wholly or in part, as a result of the work in which he or any of his employees is engaged”.

Health Act 1911

  • Under Section 251 of the Health Act 1911, the Executive Director, Public Health has the powers to implement measures for the purpose of preventing or checking any dangerous infectious disease, (e.g. HIV).  As a result, the DOH has guidelines and procedures for the management of individuals who knowingly put others at risk of HIV infection.

 REFERENCES

  1. Department of Health and Ageing, Australian National Guidelines for the Management of Health Care Workers known to be Infected with Blood-Borne Viruses. February 2012. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdna-bloodborne.htm.

  2. Department of Health Operational Directive OD 0091/07, Management of Occupational Exposure to Blood and Body Fluids in the Health Care Setting, December 2007.

  3. Department of Health Operational Directive OD 0388/12. Health Care Worker Immunisation Protocol, September 2012.

  4. National Health & Medical Research Council. The Australian Immunisation
    Handbook – 8th Edition 2003.  http://www1.health.gov.au/immhandbook/pdf/handbook.pdf.

  5. Western Australian Health Act 1911. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/ha191169/.

  6. Western Australian Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/osaha1984273/.

Mr Kim Snowball
DIRECTOR GENERAL
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WA

Date of effect: 26 September 2012 to 26 September 2017

Policy Framework

Related documents

Supporting information