Biological hazards are organic substances that pose a threat to your health. Biological hazards include pathogenic micro-organisms, viruses, toxins, spores, fungi and bio-active substances. An estimated 320,000 workers worldwide die each year from communicable diseases caused by work-related exposures to biological hazards.
Workers are often exposed to bio hazards via contact with human bodily matter, such as blood, tissues, saliva, mucous, urine and faeces, because these substances have a high risk of containing viral or bacterial diseases. Likewise, people who work with live animals or animal products (blood, tissue, milk, eggs) are exposed to animal diseases and infections, some of which have the potential to infect humans (e.g. Q-fever, avian flu or Hendra virus) or cause serious allergy via sensitisation. Exposure to biological hazards in the work environment can also occur when people are in contact with soil, clay and plant materials, organic dusts, food, and rubbish, wastewater and sewerage. Exposure to moulds and yeasts is common in some industrial processes, in workplaces with air conditioning systems and high humidity, and in the Construction industry. Exposure to biological hazards is therefore widespread and the risk of exposure is not always obvious.
Exposure to biological hazards: the percentage of workers who reported exposure to each category of biological material
Australian workers’ compensation statistics indicate that around 1,300 workers are compensated annually for diseases attributed to animal, human or biological factors. However, it is not clear how accurate this estimate is because, amongst other things, many workers in the Agriculture forestry and fishing industry are not covered by workers’ compensation schemes.
A National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance (NHEWS) survey found that:
- 19% of workers surveyed reported they worked in places where there were biological materials. These workers were considered exposed to biological hazards.
- 75% of exposed workers were exposed to human bodily matter.
- 30% of exposed workers were exposed to live animals or animal products.
- Between two and four percent of exposed workers were exposed to laboratory cultures and biohazard waste, sewerage or rubbish.
- Workers in the Health and community services and the Agriculture, forestry and fishing industries were most likely to report exposure to biological hazards.
These statistics are an alarming consequence of simply doing our job. Mould Doctor SA’s Bio Clean can help protect you, your family and your employees.
Don’t delay, call us now.