Biohazards At Work

Alexandra Gubbins
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Each week there are 9 people killed at work in the UK, with one person in 17 having an accident at work each year. The Health and Safety Executive estimates that at any one time there will be 2 million workers in the UK suffering from some kind of occupational ill health, from stress to manual lifting injuries.
Schedule 3 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations covers the law on biological hazards. Bio hazards can be defined as “…[a hazard] which is posed to humans by a biological organism, or by a material produced by such an organism” (Oxford University).
Biological hazards include viruses, bacteria, fungi, poisonous plants, and animal droppings.
There are thousands of people who work in industries in which they come into contact with biohazards. Some of these industries include:
– Medicine. At hospitals and clinics needlestick injuries pose a significant biohazard threat.
– Sewage disposal and working with water. Bacteria are the main biohazard in this line of work.
– Agriculture. Bacteria often present biohazards in agriculture, as well as viruses such as avian flu.
Medical workers
Needlestick injuries are a great risk to medical workers in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as in veterinary workers when injecting animals. They carry risk of infection of HIV, and Hepatitis B and C for both the people who are using the needles, and those disposing of them, such as waste disposal contractors.
To reduce the chance of an accident at work occurring, proper disposal of needles is essential. In the place of work there should be a clear procedure to dispose of used needles safely and with as little risk as possible.
Sewage disposal and water workers
Bacteria that cause illnesses such as Weil’s Disease and infections of the skin and eyes are a major health hazard for sewage and water workers.
There should be proper protection provided by employers for people working in this industry, including gloves, footwear, eye and respiratory protection, and face visors. Clean water, soap and towels should also be made available to prevent an biohazard related accident at work.
Agriculture workers
High levels of airborne bacteria and fungi are found in agriculture settings, and people working in the agriculture industry can suffer respiratory disorders as a result.
Wearing face masks, glasses and rubber gloves are ways in which the risk that bacteria pose, both airborne and otherwise, can be lessened for agriculture workers.
Avian flu was identified in 1997 as a virus that began infecting humans, and is beginning to be seen as posing a wider threat. Although no instances have been found of it yet in the UK, this may be a problem in the future. It is passed when a person inhales the virus from being near an infected bird.
Negligent exposure to biohazards
If the proper health regulations are not adhered to, workers become exposed to these biohazards and become unwell, sometimes with minor illnesses and sometimes with something much more serious.
People who have suffered an illness or accident at work through exposure to biological hazards should consult a legal professional about getting compensation.
At George Ide, Phillips we have solicitors who specialise in needlestick injuries and other claims following an accident at work. We have successfully handled thousands of personal injury claims on a no cost, no win, no fee basis for people in the UK.
If you would like free legal advice from George Ide, Phillips about making an accident at work compensation claim, either go to or call 0808 144 0043.