Biological hazards include viruses, bacteria, insects, animals, etc., that can cause adverse health impacts. These health impacts can range from skin and respiratory system irritation, to the transmission of infections.
Some biological hazards include:
Blood-borne diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and C, and malaria
Blood-borne diseases are viruses or bacteria that can be transmitted through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. Those most at risk from blood-borne diseases are those working in the healthcare sector, for example, doctors, nurses and dentists. However, many other professions can be at risk, such as cleaners, waste and refuse collectors, street cleaners, park keepers and tattoo artists. Simply put, anyone who might encounter sharps at work is at risk. Incidents that pose a risk for blood-borne disease transmission can have serious health and psychological impacts.
Bacteria, molds and fungi
Improperly managed work environments can make your work premises the ideal environment for bacteria, molds and fungi to thrive, such as Legionella bacteria. Exposure to bacteria, molds and fungi can result in severe health impacts, such as Legionnaire’s Disease and respiratory disorders, and could exacerbate allergies. Workplaces most at risk include spa pools, textile and print industries, and paper manufacturing, however any humid work environment can be at risk.
Flour, milk powder or grain dusts
Exposure to organic dusts can result in severe health impacts, including respiratory irritation and occupational asthma. Those at risk include individuals working in food manufacturing and preparation, such as in a bakery.
Other organic dusts
The deterioration of building materials, as well as building, construction and agricultural activities, can expose workers to a range of organic dusts, molds and bacteria – including clay and straw dust. Exposure to these can result in exacerbation of allergies, respiratory and skin irritation, among other health impacts.
Exposure to animals and vegetation
For example, those working in agriculture or horticulture, people working in zoos or as dog handlers, are at risk of encountering bacteria, fungi, viruses and mites off the animals and vegetation they work around. If not properly controlled, this exposure can result in a range of health impacts, including allergic diseases such as farmer’s lung.