Why is it important to carry out a risk assessment for the prevention and control of infection?

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Is your organisation’s infection control risk assessment up to scratch?

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused organisations in every sector to scrutinise their infection control policy more than ever.

Whilst efficient infection prevention and control policies and procedures are important for every type of organisation, they are particularly crucial in healthcare settings where infections are more common and can have more serious implications.

Every organisation should develop an effective infection control policy tailored to their industry and work environment.

This policy should be structured, clear, meet all legislative requirements, and be overseen by an individual who has been professionally trained in infection prevention and control.

One of the most important parts of an effective infection control policy is the risk assessment. In this article, we will look at what an infection control risk assessment is and why it is such a crucial part of successful infection prevention and management.

What is an infection control risk assessment?

The law requires organisations to carry out infection control risk assessments to protect the health and safety of employees and the wider public and society.

Infection control risk assessments should be carried out to identify and assess infection hazards or risks in the workplace. What these hazards and risks look like can vary significantly depending on the business or organisation type.

In care homes, for example, welcoming a new resident into the home poses a risk of infection, and so do the friends and family that come to visit the residents in the home.

An infection control risk assessment involves:

  • Identifying tasks or activities that carry the risk of introducing or spreading infection.
  • Identifying the people who may be most vulnerable to the spread of infection.
  • Evaluating the risks and implementing precautions and controls.
  • Keeping thorough and accurate records of every risk assessment.

Why are infection control risk assessments so important?

Being stringent about carrying out regular risk assessments when appropriate to do so is crucial to preventing an outbreak of infection.

Risk assessments help organisations to identify potential hazards and react to them before they cause an outbreak of infection or disease. This protects the health and safety of the organisation’s employees and the people that they then encounter.

Risk assessments help organisations to identify the presence of infection early on. The spread of the infection can then be nipped in the bud, minimising contamination and the danger to human health and safety.

Key benefits of being scrupulous about carrying out risk assessments include:

  • Creates a proactive rather than reactive strategy – Allowing you to identify and control hazards in the workplace rather than waiting for them to become a problem and then reacting to them once they’re already causing damage.
  • Protects human health – If you have tighter control over infections, preventing them where possible, or identifying the signs of an infection and catching it early on, then it is likely that fewer people will become unwell.
  • Money-saving – A proactive and preventative attitude towards infection control will reduce the number of infection outbreaks at your organisation and the costs associated with bringing an infection under control.
  • Educates employees – Risk assessments help to create awareness amongst employees of potential infection hazards and risks so that everyone can be on the lookout for the signs of an infection outbreak.
  • Meet your legal requirements – Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees at work. Infection Control Management legislation is also covered in several other important pieces of legislation, including The Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984, The Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1988, and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) 2002. Carrying out thorough infection control risk assessments will help your organisation to meet its legal requirements when it comes to protecting employees’ health and safety.
  • Protect your organisation’s reputation – Keeping infections under control will maintain your organisation’s reputation. An organisation that repeatedly suffers outbreaks of infection is likely to gain a bad reputation.

If your organisation could benefit from professional infection prevention and control training, here at CBAT we provide a popular 2-day IPC training course that is used by some of the largest healthcare organisations nationwide.

Our short course covers everything you need to know to about preventing and controlling infection outbreaks and carrying out infection control risk assessments responsibly and according to the latest regulations and legislation.

For more information about our infection control and management course, give our team a call on 01772 816 922.