HC Deb 17 January 1992 vol 201 cc674-5W
Mr. Gareth Wardell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will introduce legislation to require surgeons and dental surgeons to wear masks in combination with eye protection devices whenever splashes, spray, spatter or droplets of blood or other potentially infectious materials may be generated and eye, nose or mouth contamination can be reasonably anticipated;

(2) if he will place in the Library a summary of those requirements that employers are required to meet to protect their employees who work in hospital premises from being infected with blood or other potentially infectious materials;

(3) if he will introduce legislation to increase protection for employees working in health premises who have contact with laundry contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials;

(4) if he will introduce legislation to ensure that all health employees who carry out phlebotomies at volunteer blood donation centres are required to wear gloves when (a) the employee has cuts, scratches or other breaks in his or her skin, (b) the employee judges that hand contamination with blood may occur and (c) the employee is receiving training in phlebotomy.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Legislation on health and safety at work is the responsibility of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.

All employers have legal obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work for all their employees, and to ensure that persons not employed, but who may be affected by their undertakings, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Employers are also required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 1988, to carry out a risk assessment for all activities which are likely to expose any employees to any substance hazardous to health, including pathogenic microorganisms.

A range of guidance and codes of practice, published by the Health Departments, the Health and Safety Executive, and by health service professional associations, is available to employers and employees to help ensure appropriate standards of hygiene and minimise the risk of any spread of infection as a result of clinical activities. I would refer the hon. Member particularly to the booklet, published in January 1990 by the UK health departments through HMSO, entitled "Guidance for Clinical Health Workers: Protection Against Infection with HIV and Hepatitis Viruses". A copy of this booklet is available in the Library,

There are no plans for legislation to cover separately the matters referred to by the hon. Member.

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