Which laws relate to the prevention and control of infection?

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Every employer has a duty to protect their employees’ health, safety, and welfare whilst they are at work.

Infection prevention and control is just one area of health and safety that employers are required by law to manage in the workplace.

During the Covid-19 global pandemic, infection prevention and control policies and procedures have become more important than ever to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Whilst every work environment is required to have an infection control policy, the details of this policy can vary significantly from one business to the next.

Key factors that affecting the contents of a business or organisation’s infection control policy include the sector they operate in, their risk level, and the size of the organisation.

For example, a hospital or a care home will have a much more extensive infection prevention and control policy than a clothes shop.

Key pieces of legislation governing infection prevention and control policy in England are Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Health and Social Care Act 2008, and COSHH Regulations 2002.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these pieces of legislation relates to infection control in the workplace.

Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 applies to all businesses and organisations, whether they are in healthcare or an unrelated sector.

This act states that ‘it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.’

This includes ‘so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks.’

Health and Social Care Act 2008: code of practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 applies to NHS bodies and providers of independent healthcare and adult social care in England.

The code of practice states that healthcare providers should use systems and risk assessments to manage, monitor, prevent, and control infection.

To comply with the legislation, organisations will need to be able to demonstrate that they comply with ten criteria, including that they have ‘systems to manage and monitor the prevention and control of infection. These systems use risk assessments and consider the susceptibility of service users and any risks that their environment and other users may pose to them.’

Appropriate managing and monitoring arrangements should include ensuring that ‘there is a clear governance structure and accountability that identifies a single lead for infection prevention.’

An infection prevention and control (IPC) lead should have received professional infection prevention lead training, allowing them to competently oversee a healthcare organisation’s infection control policies and procedures and ensure that they are complying with all relevant regulations and legislation.

The COSHH Regulations 2002

The COSHH Regulations 2002 apply to all employers.

The regulations require that ‘every employer shall ensure that the exposure of his employees to substances hazardous to health is either prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled.’

It goes on to specify that ‘where there are human patients or animals which are, or are suspected of being, infected with a Group 3 or 4 biological agent, the employer shall select the most suitable control and containment measures from those listed in Part II of Schedule 3 with a view to controlling adequately the risk of infection.’

Other legislation that mentions or relates to infection prevention and control includes:

  • The Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984
  • The Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1988
  • Food Safety Act 1990
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2006
  • The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010
  • The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR) 2013

CBAT Infection prevention lead training

Here at Care Business Associates (CBAT), we provide a short, but comprehensive, 2-day training course in infection prevention lead training.

The training course covers everything you need to know to competently carry out your role as an infection prevention lead. Some key areas it covers include the role and responsibilities of an IPC lead, precautions used to minimise the risk of infection, IPC regulations and legislation, how to carry out IPC risk assessments and audits, and much more.

For more information about our infection control and management course, give our team a call on 01772 816 922, email admin@cba-training.co.uk, or book online to secure your place on our Infection Prevention Lead Training course.