What is Infection Control?
Infection Control is the practice of managing infectious materials and minimizing or eliminating the potential spread of infection between people and environments. Physical contact among athletes, sharing of equipment (such as worn personal protective equipment or braces plus towels, drinking vessels, showers, and locker rooms), and contact with athletic surfaces (mats, artificial turf, dirt, grass, and gym or weight room equipment) can all be responsible for transmission of infection.1
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Disposable waterproof gloves (latex or vinyl) should be worn when in contact with blood, blood products, other body fluids, open wounds or sores (non-intact skin) and items or surfaces soiled with blood or other body fluids.
Oral / Nasal Appliances
Mouthpieces, pocket masks, or other ventilation devices should be readily available in those settings where the need for resuscitation can be anticipated. However, the risk of infection is so slight that no one should hesitate to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if such equipment is not available.
Linen and clothing that have been soiled with blood or other body fluids may be washed with regular laundry.
Open wounds should be covered prior to competition or practice. If a bleeding injury occurs during the competition or practice, the individual must be removed from the competition until the bleeding has stopped. The wound should be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and securely covered before the individual can return. Should blood appear on the participant’s uniform or equipment, which is exposed to other participants, the uniform/equipment must be either changed or cleaned before participation can resume.
Hand hygiene is the most effective way of preventing the transmission of first-aid infection. There are 4 Moments of Hand Hygiene when hand hygiene must be employed:2
- Before contact with a patient
i.e.: before donning PPE or providing patient care
- Before a clean, or aseptic, procedure
i.e.: before wound care / dressing, handling medications
- After exposure, or risk of exposure, to blood / body fluids
i.e.: hands are visibly soiled after gloves removed
- After contact with a patient
i.e.: doffing (removing) PPE, handling used patient care supplies / materials
Alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) containing 60-90% alcohol should be used for performing hand hygiene and disinfection, except when hands are visibly soiled; in which case, wash hands with plain soap and water. Antimicrobial soap should not be used for routine hand hygiene.
For hand-washing with soap, wet the hands with warm water and apply enough soap to ensure a lather of all hand surfaces. Rub hands together vigorously over all surfaces of the hands, fingers, and wrists for a minimum of 15 seconds. Rinse all soap residue under warm water and dry with disposable paper towels.
Spills of blood or other body fluids and contaminated surfaces and equipment should be cleaned promptly with detergent and water, using disposable towels. The area should then be disinfected with a bleach solution and left to dry. The bleach solution should be a dilution of household chlorine bleach mixed one part bleach to nine parts water. The solution must be prepared fresh daily. When using, wear gloves to prevent skin irritation. Chemical germicides approved for use as hospital disinfectants can also be used to clean surfaces.
Staff and students need to be aware of the dangers of bloodborne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis “A”, “B” or “C” which may be contracted by accidental contact with a “sharps” object. Sharps may be:
- Needles / Syringes
- Scalpel or razor blades
- Broken glass
- Any other sharp object that may be contaminated with blood or body fluids
Handling and Disposal
- Never recap needles.
- Never separate needles and syringes (discard as single unit).
- Never discard sharps in regular garbage.
- Never attempt to open a sharps container that has been locked closed.
- Place used sharps in the sharps container with the sharp end pointed away from you.
- Do not insert fingers into the opening of the sharps container.
- When finished, wash hands with soap and water or clean hands with a hand sanitizer.
- Before leaving the work space, ensure that all sharps are disposed of correctly.
- Before leaving the work space, ensure that all spills are appropriately cleaned.
Safe Work Procedure: Handling & Disposing of Sharps. UBC Faculty of Medicine.
Alberta Colleges Athletic Association HIV Policies and Procedures;
Sport Medicine Council of Alberta HIV Education Material
1 Davies, HD., Jackson, MA., & Rice, SG. Infectious Diseases Associated with Organized Sports and Outbreak Control. Pediatrics. 2017; 140.
2 IPAC Guidelines: Hand Hygiene. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.