Skip Navigation

WHS OP014 (interim) Infectious Diseases Procedure

This is the current version of this document. To view historic versions of this document click the link in the main navigation (grey) bar above or contact policies@une.edu.au for versions that expired pre 27 July 2015.

Section 1 - Overview

(1) The University of New England (UNE) has a duty of care towards students and University Representatives and others to provide a safe and secure teaching environment. The WHS Rule requires a commitment to best practice hazard identification, risk assessment and hazard management. This applies to hazards that can cause disease and ill-health as well as injury.

(2) UNE recognises that, in an era of international globalisation, individuals employed or studying at the University may come into contact with an infectious disease.

(3) In NSW reporting of notifiable diseases, communicable disease prevention and pandemic management is coordinated through the NSW Department of Health Centre for Health Protection and the public health network of local Public Health Units. The Commonwealth Government has developed national communication guidelines and pandemic action plans.

(4) UNE is committed to ensuring the safety of students and University Representatives by actively promoting infection control, immunisations and other measures to prevent or minimise the risk of transmission of infectious and blood borne diseases. UNE will comply with commonwealth and state legislation on issues related to notifiable disease and pandemic management.

Section 2 - Scope

(5) This Procedure covers all work related activities undertaken on campus and in fieldwork locations, both domestic and international. It also includes students and University Representatives who are required to participate in workplace learning placements and clinical rotations in health care settings involved with the provision of patient care and services. Although it does include requirements for onsite residential students, it does not include sport and other recreational related activities.

Section 3 - Procedure

General

(6) The UNE Work Health and Safety Rule require University Representatives and students to adhere to statutory legislation, regulations, national standards and codes of practice.

(7) Identifying and taking action to reduce individual exposure to disease, being aware of risks to public health and the spread of infection is central to this procedure.

(8) UNE will be guided by the recommendations of the NSW Department of Health on all matters related to infectious diseases and pandemics.

(9) UNE prohibits 'coercion of disclosure' of status and discrimination against students and University Representatives with notifiable diseases.

(10) University Representatives with access to information, relating to notifications of infectious diseases, are required to protect the confidentiality of the information.

(11) Students and University Representatives are required to understand their responsibilities to protect themselves as individuals and their responsibilities to protect others from transmission of blood borne and other infectious diseases.

(12) Whenever possible the Health and Safety Consultant and other Employee Relations University Representatives will co-ordinate contact between UNE and the Communicable Diseases branch of NSW Department of Health.

(13) Academic and administration units, which have high-risk exposure to fomites, or work closely with animals and perceive zoonosis a risk, may develop their own protocols and procedures as long as they are compatible with this procedure.

Prevention of Transmission

(14) University Representatives and students must follow safe work procedures and treat all blood products and body substances as potentially infectious.

(15) It is an expectation that universal precautions, including hand-washing protocols and cough etiquette, will be adopted by all University Representatives, students and UNE visitors.

(16) Hand washing, cough etiquette and other relevant infection control posters will be on display at ablution facilities.

(17) University Representatives and students with identified airborne communicable diseases (excluding the common cold) must obtain a clearance from their consulting Specialist/General Practitioner before entering enclosed spaces where a number of people are gathered.

(18) Lecturers, supervisors, exam supervisors and safety representatives may request University Representatives or students to use personal protective equipment if no other options are available.

(19) Special examinations provisions are available for students who need to sit an exam when infectious.

(20) If special examination provisions are made the procedures recommended by the consulting Specialist/General Practitioner will normally be followed, however where there is a conflict the University may err on the side of caution and make decisions on a case by case basis.

(21) The wearing of masks is an acceptable form of personal protection and transmission prevention.

(22) The concerns of University Representatives and students with lowered immune systems will be a priority in any deliberations, but the rights of the student who may be infectious or just a carrier also need to be considered when making decisions.

Temporary disability

(23) Staff with infectious diseases or caring for family members with infectious diseases must contact Human Resource Services if their leave allocation is exhausted.

(24) Students with communicable diseases need to apply for a special exam. Depending on the nature of the disease this may need to be an alternative assessment or a special examination arranged and supervised by the relevant school.

(25) If required the HRS and WHS staff will coordinate arrangements for exams or return to work.

Medical Centre

(26) Staff and students are advised to contact their General Practitioner if they are unwell.

(27) The UNE Medical Centre will provide medical appointments and vaccinations on request.

(28) Phone calls to the UNE Medical Centre will be triaged to a Doctor or nurse and advice on how and where to access appropriate medical care will be given.

Vaccinations

(29) Some staff and students are required to be vaccinated as an inherent requirement of their position or course. These requirements will be determined by legislation, school or course requirements, directorate specific procedures or the policies of external organisations. Potential exposures may include Tetanus; Diphtheria; Polio; Measles; Mumps; Rubella; Hepatitis B.

(30) A risk assessment process must be used to assess whether staff and students who travel overseas require other vaccinations such as Combined Hep A & B; Yellow Fever; Rabies vaccine; Japanese B Encephalitis.

(31) Researchers working with animals need to conduct a risk assessment to identify if vaccination for animal specific diseases such a Q fever is required.

(32) NSW Health Occupational Assessment, Screening and Vaccination policy requires that all students and staff working in Department of Health premises are vaccinated prior to commencing work.

(33) The University may decide to provide influenza vaccinations for staff. Participation in such activities is voluntary.

Zoonosis

(34) Students and Staff working with animals, particularly but not restricted to mammals, must take precautions to prevent the transmission of zoonotic parasites and pathogens between animals and humans.

(35) High standards of hygiene and infection control are required both before and after contact. Vaccination may be required.

(36) Women when pregnant may be required to cease working with animals if a risk assessment identifies that early delivery, infection or death of the newborn baby may be an outcome.

Laboratory activities

(37) All laboratories handling human biological specimens will have a Person in Control and written procedures for safe handling of biological specimens.

(38) Students and staff will be required to comply with these guidelines.

(39) All laboratory workers must be trained in the handling and disposal of sharps.

Service staff

(40) All staff must receive information about infection control as a component of their induction training.

(41) Maintenance workers and trade staff must be trained in the handling and disposal of contaminated waste.

NSW Health Placements

(42) Students and staff involved in work placements in NSW Health settings must comply with NSW Health immunisation requirements.

(43) Students and staff must have access to OHS management systems and serological and other testing of immunity within placement agencies.

(44) Students have the choice to opt out of the immunisation program on medical or conscientious grounds with the written permission of their Head of School. Opting out would be subject to consideration as to whether the student is likely to undertake exposure-prone procedures.

(45) Students and staff who do not undertake the immunisation program for whatever reason must be referred by their General Practitioner or immunisation provider to an appropriate specialist for further advice on protecting themselves and others from infectious diseases.

(46) Students are responsible for the cost of required testing and immunisations.

International Travel

(47) Staff and students undertaking a period of work or study overseas, particularly in developing countries, must be advised of health risks at the time of inquiry and take appropriate precautions.

(48) Travel permission may be denied if students or staff do not comply with recommended vaccination requirements for malaria, Hepatitis A, polio, typhoid, meningococcal disease, yellow fever.

(49) International students and visiting academics are required to meet the same screening and immunisation standards of domestic students and staff.

Residences

(50) Standard infection control principles will be practised in all Residences.

(51) All Residence Business Continuity Plans must include procedures for infectious diseases and pandemics.

(52) Residence management may require students to relocate during outbreaks of communicable diseases if isolation procedures need to be introduced.

(53) Cleaning, kitchen, and student admission protocols will be amended if enhanced protocols are required to prevent or mitigate communicable disease outbreaks.

(54) It is highly recommended that students and staff seek medical advice if they are unwell or have potentially communicable rashes, skin complaints and sexually transmitted infections.

(55) Students in residence are advised to obtain annual influenza vaccinations and consider booster vaccines if they suspect their immunity may be low.

(56) Students with symptoms of a range of childhood diseases may continue to be accommodated in the residences especially if the infectious period is passed.

Pandemic

(57) The compilation of fact sheets and implementation of communication protocols will be a priority if the potential for a pandemic is identified.

(58) Pandemic Action Plans will be implemented as required.

(59) A consultative approach will be used to develop pandemic management guidelines, if required.

Authority and Compliance

(60) The Rule Administrator, pursuant to the University's Workplace Health and Safety Rule, makes these procedures.

(61) University Representatives and Students must observe these Procedures in relation to University matters.

(62) These Procedures operate as and from the Effective Date.

(63) Previous Procedures relating to infectious disease are replaced and have no further operation from the Effective Date of this new Procedure.

Section 4 - Definitions

(64) Communicable disease means an infectious disease that can be communicated from one person to another either directly or by contact or indirectly by fomites or vectors.

(65) Effective Date means the day on which this Procedure is published or on such later day as may be specified in this Procedure.

(66) Fomite means any object or substance capable of carrying infectious organisms.

(67) Infectious disease means any disease caused by invasion by a pathogen which subsequently grows or multiples in the body.

(68) Notifiable diseases are communicable diseases notifiable under the Public Health Act and Regulation 1991.

(69) Specified Infectious Diseases are communicable diseases for which the NSW Department of Health requires evidence of protection prior to employment on a casual, temporary or casual basis; they include diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis, varicella (chicken pox).

(70) Student means an Admitted Student or an Enrolled Student, at the relevant time.

  1. Admitted student means a student who has been admitted to a UNE course of study and who is entitled to enrol in a unit of study or who has completed all of the units in the UNE course of study.
  2. Enrolled student means a student who is enrolled in a unit of study at UNE.

(71) University Representative means a University employee (casual, fixed term and permanent) contractor, agent, appointee, UNE Council member, adjunct, visiting academic and any other person engaged by the University to undertake some activity for or on behalf of the University. It includes corporations and other bodies falling into one or more of these categories.

(72) Vector means an organism, typically a biting insect or tick, that transmits a disease or parasite from one animal to another.

(73) Zoonosis means any infectious disease that can be transmitted (in some cases by a vector) from non-human animals, both wild and domesticated, to humans or from humans to non-humans.