Infection Control: Legislation, Procedures and Policies

March 18, 2024

Have you ever thought about what procedures are in place if you get sick? As an employer, you must provide your employees with an infection control policy to ensure the health and safety of your staff. In this guide, we take you through what infection control policies are, the infection control legislation you must follow, and the procedures you must conduct to ensure the safety of all your staff.

  • What are Infection Control Policies?
  • Key Infection Control Legislation You Must Follow 
  • Infection Control Procedures: Risk Assessment 
  • Healthcare vs Office-Based Infection Control Policies 
  • Comply with Infection Control Principles with Woosh

What are Infection Control Policies? 

An infection control policy covers guidelines and procedures that should be followed in order to eliminate, reduce, contain, and manage potential infections that may occur in different settings. This policy must be in place for any business, from healthcare facilities to office-based environments. Infection control policies aim to protect employees from any infectious agents (biological agents) that pose a risk, control and manage the risk of transmission, and maintain a clean working environment. 

How Can Infection Control Policies Differ?

Although all infection control policies aim to put procedures in place to protect employees from infectious agents, some factors affect the contents of each infection control policy. For example, the work environment can change the number and type of procedures in place. The risks of infection in a hospital would differ from those in an office environment, so the infection control policy would also differ. 

Additionally, the size of the organisation also influences the infection control policy. Having a larger organisation would not only increase the risk of infection, but the infection control procedures would differ as there is a higher chance of transmission, and more scenarios may have to be accounted for. 

Key Infection Control Legislation You Must Follow 

You must follow several infection control legislations, but which ones you need to follow can slightly differ depending on the sector your business operates in. 

Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

This legislation applies to all businesses and organisations, no matter what sector you work in. This act states it is the employer’s duty to ensure the health and safety of employees. It is also up to the employer to maintain a safe environment, including the safe handling of any substances and training to ensure employees uphold a safe workplace. Risk assessments must be conducted to identify any risks and implement measures to mitigate the effects of these risks. 

Health and Social Care Act 2008

This legislation only applies to NHS bodies and health and social care organisations. Systems must be put in place to manage, monitor, and control infection. With the healthcare sector being a more high-risk environment compared to an office workplace, more complex systems need to be in place to manage and monitor the risk of infection. 

COSHH Regulations 2002

COSHH Regulations apply to all employers. This legislation highlights the need to assess employees' exposure to hazardous substances. The substances mentioned in this legislation include any biological agents or microorganisms that may pose a risk to employees. Employers need to have control measures in place for each scenario to control and contain the infection. 

Infection Control Procedures: Risk Assessment

Risk assessments must be conducted to ensure the health and safety of all employees as per Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. These risk assessments will be specific to each organisation as they must account for the different personnel in the workplace and the particular work activities within a working environment. 

  • Identify Hazards: All potential hazards in a workplace must be identified, including any infectious agents that visitors may bring into the workplace. 
  • Who is Affected: Employers should take into account all potential occupants of the facility, including employees, visitors, and contractors who may be affected by a potential infectious agent. 
  • Evaluate Risks: Each hazard that has been identified should be ranked from a low risk to a high risk. 
  • Decide on Precautions: The control measures that should be implemented should be in line with the level of risk of each hazard. For example, a high-risk hazard should have a high control measure. 
  • Record Significant Findings: Any significant findings should be highlighted and communicated to all employees so they are aware of the risks. 
  • Training: Depending on the type of hazards and level of risk, employees could be trained to understand each hazard and manage any risks depending on the sector they work in. 
  • Review the Risk Assessment: Once the risk assessment is live, any changes that need to be made should be completed immediately. Additionally, if any new infectious agents pose a risk, these should be added to the risk assessment. 

Healthcare Vs Office-Based Infection Control Policies 

Although there are similarities between every infection control policy, there are also some differences depending on the work environment. This section highlights the key differences between a healthcare facility infection control policy and an office-based infection control policy. 

Setting and Environment

A healthcare facility has a higher concentration of individuals who may have compromised immune systems due to the nature of the workplace. This means patients are at a higher risk of exposure to various infectious agents and are thus placed in a high-risk group. 

On the other hand, offices are a lower risk environment as the workforce primarily comprises healthy individuals. Generally, an office space also has the same employees with limited visitors, meaning the diversity of risks is kept to a minimum. 

Control Measures

Due to the nature of a healthcare facility, the measures to prevent infectious agents are heightened. Some examples of control measures within a healthcare facility include sterilisation of medical equipment, isolating particularly contagious individuals, and maintaining a sanitary environment. 

The control measures of an office setting are more general. Policies should emphasise general hygiene practices, keeping shared spaces clean and sanitary, and other measures to reduce the spread of germs among employees. 

Infection Control Legislation 

A healthcare setting must comply with the Health and Social Care Act 2008 as it is specific to a healthcare environment. This particular legislation requires the organisation to nominate an infection control lead that is onsite at all times to ensure the practices of infection control are conducted. 

Employers in an office setting are subject to more general health and safety regulations, but nevertheless, employers are still responsible for the health and safety of all employees and visitors.  

Comply with Infection Control Principles with Woosh 

Once you have conducted your risk assessment and decided on your control measures, you need the equipment to carry them out! At Woosh, we have everything you need to control infection in your workplace. From soap dispensers to promote hand hygiene to sharps bins for healthcare settings, protect your staff from infections today!

Infection Control FAQs

What are 5 infection control procedures?

Some examples of infection control procedures include:

  • Hand hygiene 
  • Wearing personal protective equipment if applicable 
  • Safe disposal of sharps
  • Sanitisation of equipment 
  • Maintaining a clean work environment

What is infection control?

Infection control is any measure that aims to prevent and control infectious agents. Infectious agents are defined as microorganisms that can cause diseases. This applies to various settings, including healthcare facilities and workplaces. A range of control measures are put in place to reduce the risk of transmitting infectious agents. For example, hand hygiene, regularly cleaning workspaces, and monitoring infections. 

How is infection spread?

Germs or infectious agents are spread from person to person in a number of ways, including:

  • Direct Contact: Where an infected person directly touches another person through shaking hands or kissing. 
  • Indirect Contact: An infected person may release germs through coughing or sneezing, and these germs will land on nearby surfaces. Alternatively, an infected person can cough or sneeze into their hands and touch surfaces without washing them. This leaves germs on surfaces ready for another person to touch. 
  • Droplets: Water droplets containing germs may be coughed or sneezed into the air. 
  • Airborne: Tiny aerosol particles containing germs might be released into the air, which others can then breathe in. 

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