What is Zoonosis? | Hasmate health and safety program
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What is zoonosis?

What is zoonosis?

Zoonosis is a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals.

Any case of zoonosis that is attributed to a workplace is deemed to be a serious infection, and thus is a notifiable event that must be notified to WorkSafe.

Serious infections are defined as:

  • Any serious infection (including occupational (zoonosis) to which the carrying out of work is a significant contributing factor, including any infection that is attributable to carrying out work with:
    • Micro organisms;
    • That involves providing treatment or care to a person that involves contact with human blood or bodily substances (rest homes, dementia units, morgues, etc);
    • Any other injury or illness declared by regulations to be a notifiable injury or illness for the purposes of this section;
    • That involves handling or contact with fish or marine mammals;
    • That involves handling or contact with animals, animal hides, animal skins, animal wool or hair, animal carcasses, or animal waste products (rendering, farms, meat inspection, etc).

An example of a zoonosis that is debilitating condition for those that contact is Leptospirosis.

This is a disease that is prevalent in the agriculture and meat processing industries (and others), and is too easy to become infected. A good friend of mine worked as a meat inspector, and contracted it when water was splashed in his eyes from a viscera table.

Recently, I was worked with an engineering company that repaired stock trucks. Two of their staff had contracted the disease, and when we investigated this, I found that this had not been considered an actual or potential health related problem. As we dug deeper and looked for the source of the infections, we identified that:

  1. The management had never considered it;
  2. The employees had no idea of the issue; and
  3. Consequently, there was no hazard or risk assessment undertaken, no controls in place, or any procedures or staff training.

As a result, the procedure is that all employees are required to cover all cuts and scratches when working on stock trucks, and the truck decks and undersides are steam cleaned prior to the work.

This may seem to be over the top, but when one considers that leptospirosis can stay in the body and it take years to get over the debilitating condition, these are cost effective and a good use of time.

This is only one of the many conditions that can be contracted from animals, so if your business is engaged in an industry where this could happen, I suggest you take note, and introduce safe working practises to minimise the risk.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss this further.