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11.1 Introduction to managing biological hazard risks

This section offers guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) on managing the risks to road and roadside workers of working being exposed to biological hazards.

Biological hazards include bacteria, fungi, viruses, plant, and animal particles. They can cause a range of adverse health effects including infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer, and gastro-intestinal illnesses.

Sources of biological hazards in road and roadside work can include:

  • human waste (urine, faeces, vomit)
  • human blood or body tissue
  • food and food waste
  • contaminated water
  • dead animals (roadkill)
  • animal urine and faeces
  • stagnant roadside water sources
  • decaying vegetation, woodchips, compost, potting mix
  • needles and syringes
  • poisonous plants
  • contaminated soil. 

11.2 Control measures for biological risks

When managing risks from biological hazards:

  • make sure any sources of harmful biological matter are identified and removed or isolated by someone trained to do so safely before work begins or continues
  • before work starts, check that any land that may be disturbed does not contain any harmful biological contaminants. If there is a risk of contaminated soil being present, you may need a suitably qualified environmental practitioner to make an assessment. For more information, see The Ministry for the Environment National Environmental Standard for assessing and managing contaminants in soil to protect human health(external link)
  • use tools to handle the biological matter where possible
  • wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) when working near or dealing with potentially harmful biological matter
  • provide mobile handwash stations for workers who are not at depots or near handwashing facilities. Sanitiser is not a substitute for handwashing in these cases, though it may help
  • practice good personal hygiene (washing and drying hands, covering mouth when sneezing or coughing, cleaning cuts and scratches)
  • practice good housekeeping (regularly clean washrooms, toilets, food preparation and storage areas, and break rooms)
  • consider if additional immunisations are needed (for example tetanus, hepatitis A or B). For more information, see The Ministry of Health Immunisation Handbook 2020(external link) 

For more information about when you need to provide workers with showering facilities, see Section 26.3: Additional facilities

In some circumstances, bodily fluids (such as those resulting from a vehicle crash) will also need to be treated in accordance with tikanga practices.

11.3 More information on biological hazards