This is part 2 of this 5 part series in which we will deal with additional control methods and the chain of infection. Part 1 dealt with the Source of Bacteria and Soil Prevention
Another potential route into the building for soil and bacteria is on peoples’ clothes. The installation of an air-shower at the main entrance to a building will help to remove loose soil from clothing.
An air-shower produces a powerful but comfortable downward or sideways draught, that dislodges loose soil particles, forcing them toward the floor. Here they can be trapped and contained within the fibres of barrier mats, thus preventing them from entering the building
Although air-conditioning is installed in buildings primarily to control the internal temperature, if properly maintained, they will improve the air quality throughout the building by filtering airborne dust and soil particles. As we have already pointed out, these particles can contain harmful bacteria, which can be effectively contained with effective air-conditioning.
High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, or HEPA filters can be fitted to vacuum cleaners to dramatically increase their ability to filter exhaust air, thus reducing the amount of dust being emitted during cleaning.
HEPA filters collect the airborne dust and debris, including dust mites, rather than re-circulating the air around the room as an ionizer does. Many filtration systems that don't have HEPA filters leave the toxic elements trapped in the room and eventually they become airborne again. The idea is to remove the dust entirely, not simply move it around.
In order to be certified as a HEPA filter, it must capture a minimum of 99.97% of foreign particles at 0.3 microns in size. Normally they would be supplied in areas where there are people who are hyper-sensitive, allergic or susceptible to infection from certain airborne particles or in areas where the presence of dust can cause damage to machinery i.e. computer suites.
Another benefit of using HEPA filters is that they are capable of removing potentially harmful V.O.C.'s (Volatile Organic Compounds) which are gases that come from household chemicals and synthetic materials. So you can understand the merit of vacuum cleaners, which incorporate HEPA filters and how they increase the vacuum cleaners overall efficiency.
So you can understand the merit of vacuum cleaners, which incorporate HEPA filters and how they increase the vacuum cleaners overall efficiency.
The key to preventing the spread of infection effectively is prompt and efficient removal of waste. All companies charged with handling waste, must develop rigorous systems that ensure that waste is disposed of promptly, effectively and correctly.
Effective waste disposal procedures will go a long way to reducing the risks associated with the spread of bacteria and infection in the following ways:
- Buildings will be less prone to pest infestation and disturbance.
- Harmful pathogens will be promptly removed and stopped from multiplying.
- Effective disposal of hazardous waste will significantly reduce the risk of infection being spread from contaminated items.
- It will encourage good housekeeping by other users of the building.
Finally, there a number of other ways soil can be prevented from entering buildings. Examples of these are;
- Prohibiting smoking
- Provision of litter bins outside building entrances
- Provision of ashtrays (if smoking is allowed)
- Controlling access to the building
- Issuing protective clothing, such as caps, gowns, overshoes and overalls which must be worn or removed before entering certain areas of the building.
The implementation of successful infection control procedures relies heavily on all those involved in their implementation and delivery having a sound understanding of the basic concepts of infection and how it occurs.
Over the years, training relating to infection control has developed significantly. From this development, the use of the “Chain of Infection” diagram has become the standard way of describing the sequence of events necessary for an infection to occur, in its simplest terms:
If one or more of these links can be broken, the development of infection can at worst be interrupted and at best avoided completely. Therefore, the aim of any effective infection control procedure is to break one or more of the links in the chain.
In a cleaning setting, this is achieved by introducing systems that incorporate the use of colour-coded equipment along with specialist equipment used to react in situations where there is the serious risk of infection e.g. discarded hypodermic syringes.
Let us look at the links in the chain in more detail.
Sources of bacteria
Bacteria or other harmful micro-organisms originate from a specific source. There 3 areas from where bacteria can originate. These are:
Endogenous sources - being produced and developed within living organisms i.e. organs and deep tissues.
Exogenous sources - being produced and developed on the surface of living organisms i.e. on the skin, hair etc.
Environmental sources - being produced and developed in the atmosphere and on the surfaces within the working environment. It is important to note that not all bacteria are capable of causing harmful infections; those that do are called “pathogens” and they require the correct conditions in which to breed and multiply. These conditions are:
- That the source of infection contains microbes in a fully virulent (aggressive) state and in sufficient numbers to cause infection.
- That the microbe is present in areas where there is a plentiful supply of food. Microbes require water or protein containing body fluids to survive and multiply.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately identify the risks involved with specific body fluids. Therefore, it is considered good practice to treat all waste that could be considered to contain bacteria as potentially hazardous in terms of their ability to cause infection. Therefore, effective infection control procedures will significantly reduce the risk of transmission.
Also, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of the transmission of bacteria and risk assessments should be undertaken to identify these risks within the workplace. Examples of these would be:
- Diarrhoea and incontinence (particularly in kitchens)
- The incidence of items contaminated with blood
- Uncovered wounds
- Employees with viral infections
In part 3 we deal with Bacteria and Routes of Transmission
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