Are biological hazards that could lead to disease a problem on construction sites? What diseases could I catch?

There are a variety of biological hazards that may be present on a construction site and any of these could lead to disease if precautions are not taken to reduce the risks. Some of these diseases can be serious or fatal.

	Not all sites will contain biological hazards. Sites where groundwork, refurbishment, or demolition work is taking place are more likely to be affected. Common hazards leading to potential for exposure to biological hazards that could cause disease include:

		Bird droppings, for example in refurbishment or demolition sites. Inhaling dust or water droplets containing contaminated bird droppings can lead to several diseases, including Psittacosis (a flu-like illness that can lead to pneumonia).
		Discarded needles, for example from recreational drug use. Needlestick injuries can lead to exposure to blood borne viruses including Hepatitis B&C and HIV.
		Rat infestation and exposure to rat urine. Rat urine or water contaminated with it can cause Leptospirosis / Weil’s disease if it enters a cut or gets into the nose, mouth or eyes.
		Contamination of the site with sewage or animal faeces. This can lead to infection with E.coli, a bacterium which can cause stomach problems or more serious ill health. Sewage could also be contaminated with Hepatitis A.
		Water systems that have not been drained or disinfected, containing stagnant water. These could contain bacteria which can cause Legionnaires’ disease if spray / fine droplets contaminated with the bacteria are inhaled.

	If any of these are present on your site, a risk assessment will be needed to determine the precautions to be followed when working on the site.