Work health and safety and Hendra virus

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 places duties on people at workplaces for health and safety.

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a primary duty of care to ensure, as far as reasonably practical, the health and safety of themselves and workers (e.g. employees, students, trainees, contractors, sub-contractors and volunteers).

The same duty also applies to any other people who may be at risk from work carried out by the business or undertaking (e.g. clients).

If you are a veterinarian or a practice principal, you should ensure the following work health and safety (WHS) precautions:

  • Manage the risks to health and safety from Hendra virus (HeV). Safe Work Australia's How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice gives guidance on risk management.
  • Develop and implement a plan for responding to suspected HeV cases. This should include minimising the risk to veterinarians, veterinary nurses and others (e.g. clients).
  • Develop and implement supporting HeV policies, procedures, equipment and training.
  • Adopt recommended infection prevention and control and biosecurity precautions to protect veterinarians, veterinary nurses and others (including clients) against exposure to HeV risks.
  • Provide biosecurity advice to clients.
  • Discuss HeV vaccination with horse owners. Vaccination of horses provides a public health and work health and safety benefit by reducing the risk of HeV transmission to humans and other susceptible animals.

Work-caused infection with HeV is a notifiable incident. If this happens, you need to notify Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ).

For more information, visit the WHSQ website or contact WHSQ on 1300 362 128.