Once we become aware of the potential biological hazards in a particular work setting, we can develop an effective plan to prevent occupational illness. Prevention of illness from biological hazards is accomplished by a combination of the three classic prevention strategies—primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention.
Primary prevention aims to prevent illness before the disease process begins. Strategies include vaccination and measures to limit potentially hazardous exposure to biological agents and organisms. Exposures can be limited by using engineering controls (including ventilation and containment systems), proper work practices, and personal protective equipment (such as gloves, uniforms, laboratory coats, safety glasses, and respirators). Environmental monitoring may be useful to determine if controls are effective in reducing potential exposures.
Secondary prevention entails intervention when the physiologic changes that precede illness are recognized or when subclinical illness develops. Secondary prevention is most effective when a surveillance system detects these events systematically. Medical screening must therefore focus on both the results for individuals and those for the group (epidemiologic evaluation).
Tertiary prevention is directed at limiting the consequences of clinical illness once it has occurred. It may involve medical treatment, work restrictions, and/or removal of the worker ...