Work Health Professionals manage onsite workplace vaccinations programs in Perth. This includes Hepatitis B vaccinations, as well as Hepatitis A, tetanus, flu and other vaccines to support immunity to vaccine preventable diseases.
WorkSafe WA have produced a useful document on the risks of Hepatitis B in the workplace. For workers potentially exposed to Hep B, and other diseases, a vaccination program is recommended.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease that is commonly transmitted through blood to blood contact. It is a virus that can slowly damage the liver over many years and is potentially life threatening.
Who is exposed to Hep B in the workplace?
Any employee who is likely to come into contact with blood, blood products, body fluids or contaminated materials such as sharps or needles in the workplace is at risk.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for people who work in any occupation that involves any of:
- direct patient care
- handling human tissue, blood or body fluids
- handling used needles or syringes
These people should also routinely follow standard precautions against exposure to human tissue, blood or body fluids.
The National Code of Practice for the Control of Work-related Exposure to Hepatitis and HIV (Blood-borne) Viruses [NOHSC:2010(2003)] lists a wide range of occupations requiring a specific risk assessment.
How do you get Hepatitis B?
Any job that involves possible contact with human blood, other body fluids or contaminated material carries a risk of Hep B infection.
Hepatitis B is easier to contract than most other blood borne viruses. The virus is mainly spread through:
- material contaminated with infected blood or blood products or bodily fluids such as soiled linen, sanitary waste or used needles and other sharps such as broken glass, blades, etc.
- direct contact with infected blood and blood products, but a person can also be infected through bodily fluids such as semen and vaginal fluid
Hepatitis B can be contracted from a tiny amount of blood that is too small to see, and the virus can live for up to 7 days outside the body even in dried blood. The most common route of infection is via a break or cut in the skin.
Is an employer required to provide a vaccination program for Hepatitis B?
Where there is a significant risk of contracting Hepatitis B at work, a vaccination protocol should be included in an immunisation policy for prevention and control of infectious disease for the workplace. Where needed, vaccination should be made available free of charge to employees.
Jobs at risk of Hep B exposure
- accommodation staff
- first aid providers
- care workers, including child care workers
- laundry staff
- cleaning staff
- parks and garden employees
- correctional centre workers
- security workers
- health care workers
- sex workers
- emergency services workers
- waste and recycling industry staff
Want more information on Hep B risk at work or Hepatitis B vaccinations?
Give us a call or drop us an email so we can help you work out your Vaccination Program needs.