Q Fever: Control Measures in Workplaces
Q fever is a highly infectious disease that is spread from animals to people. Anyone who spends a lot of time around animals, animal products, animal waste, animal environments and items contaminated by animals is at risk of being infected.
People can become infected from inhaling just a few bacteria. Infected animals shed large numbers of bacteria, which can survive in the environment for long periods, tolerate harsh conditions and spread in the air. This makes control measures in high risk environments such as farms, abattoirs and zoos essential.
Q Fever Vaccination
The primary method of protecting workers from being infected is with Q fever vaccination. This requires pre-vaccination screening to exclude workers who have been previously vaccinated against or infected with Q fever, as there is a risk of a severe vaccine reaction.
Non-immune workers should be vaccinated and will develop immunity 15 days later. New workers to a business should undergo Q fever screening and vaccination before starting work as they have a higher risk of getting ill from the infection. If unvaccinated workers need to enter high risk areas, they should wear suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) as a short-term control measure and be properly trained in its proper fit and use.
Supporting Control Measures.
Additional control measures should be introduced to protect visitors, members of the public and other workers from Q fever. Some examples include:
Level 1 and 2 control measures:
- Restricting access to high risk areas
- Using a low-pressure water cleaning system to minimise airborne aesorals
- Roster immune workers for high risk tasks
- Install ventilation systems to minimise the dispersal of airborne contaminants
- Place high traffic areas, site entry and dining areas away from high risk areas
- Install dust suppression systems to minimise airborne dust
- Ensure surfaces, machinery and equipment are designed to be easily cleaned
- Isolate, enclose or contain the source of infection with measures such as installing enclosed visitor viewing areas at meatworks
Level 3 control measures:
- Develop safe work procedures to minimise Q fever risks
- Provide workers with information, instruction and training on Q fever
- Require contractors and visitors to show proof of immunity to Q fever
- Maintain a pool of Q fever immune contractors and casual workers
- Keep the workplace clean to minimise the accumulation of dust and dirt
- Use signage to inform people about Q fever risks
- Use signage to tell people to use personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Provide suitable washing facilities for workers
- Launder PPE clothing separately from other items
- Use biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of infection (e.g. tick treatments)
- Handle and dispose of animal products, waste, placenta and aborted fetuses appropriately and where possible prevent animals from eating the placenta after giving birth
Need Advice for a Worker’s Compensation in Queensland?
If you’ve been infected with Q fever in the workplace, you should contact an experienced compensation lawyer to evaluate your case and determine whether you are eligible for compensation. The process of making a claim is complex and subject to time limits, so it’s important to act quickly.
If you need a qualified lawyer in Brisbane or the Gold Coast, get in touch with the team at Dwyer Law Group. We have more than 30 years of experience dealing with a variety of claims for compensation. Contact us online or call us on 07 5610 5277 and ask about our ‘No Win, No Fee’ policy.