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Leptospirosis

Hazard Related Topics

Also known as Weil's Disease.

This is a viral disease that can be contracted by any workers who come into contact with water or soil contaminated with rat's urine. The infection can enter the body through breaks in the skin, contact with the eyes or by ingestion.

Exposure

Particular care should be taken where the work involves:

  • working in contaminated land or water;
  • performing river, stream, canal, lake and pond repairs and maintenance;
  • excavating in the vicinity of ditches or ponds;
  • working within sewers and sewage treatment plants;
  • working in landfill areas.

Symptoms

The most common early symptoms are similar to influenza and involve a sudden high temperature and joint and muscle pains. Conjunctivitis and jaundice may also occur. In its early stages leptospirosis can only be diagnosed by testing of bodily samples in a laboratory.

Controls

  1. During the design and work risk assessment processes assess likelihood of exposure or extent of work in contaminated areas.
  2. Designers should attempt to eliminate the need to work in potentially contaminated areas or, if this is not reasonably practicable, minimise the numbers of people and the time that they are in potentially contaminated areas.
  3. The contractors should provide of washing and showering facilities where work is in potentially contaminate areas.
  4. Encourage a change in supervisors' and workers' behaviour by reinforcing control measures for exposed workers, e.g. washing hands before eating, drinking or smoking, avoiding hand contact with the eyes, nose or mouth during work and covering cuts and grazes with water-proof plasters.
  5. Train supervisors and workers to recognise the early symptoms and to seek medical advice immediately.
  6. Issue information cards (Leptospirosis Cards) to all supervisors and workers who may come into contact with contaminants. This card should be given to the medical practitioner so that they are aware of the worker's occupation and the possibility of leptospirosis.