Safe work procedures

Together with your workers, you must develop and implement safe work procedures to manage any foreseeable risks to someone’s health and safety. Safe procedures should include (but are not limited to):

Regular hand washing

Hand washing facilities should be available in work areas, eating areas and in the toilets. They should be separate from troughs or sinks used in connection with any sex work activities, and should have hot and cold water and liquid soap. There should also be paper towels (or air-dryers) and waste containers.

Workers should wash their hands before and after servicing every client, and after disposing of used PPE and other items.

Any cuts, abrasions or rashes should be covered with waterproof dressings and, if necessary, suitable gloves.

Personal protective equipment

There are specific laws about using appropriate PPE in the workplace.

You must provide enough PPE for use by workers - free of charge (eg condoms, dams, gloves, water-based lubricants). Ensure PPE is properly maintained and easily accessible. Make sure workers know how to safely use and dispose of PPE.

PPE must be provided to workers, in reasonable quantities and a range of sizes and type, for example latex and non-latex, that comply with appropriate Australian Standards. PPE should also be stored where they are easily accessible to sex workers. Make sure workers know how to safely use and dispose of used PPE.

To prevent premature deterioration, store condoms and dams away from moisture, light and heat in a secure, tamper-proof location not accessible to clients.

Workers should be instructed to always clean, disinfect and cover all sex toys with a new condom between clients. Condoms on sex toys must be changed when the toy is used on a different person and/or a different orifice. Sex toys should be thoroughly cleaned after each job.

Make sure workers check disposable PPE before using it, to ensure it has not passed its use-by date and the package is not damaged.

Housekeeping and cleaning

Keep your premises clean at all times.

If you use hazardous chemicals for cleaning, ensure you manage the risks.

Regularly clean and disinfect showers, baths, toilets and other wet areas. When cleaning, suitable PPE must be worn - including waterproof gloves, plastic aprons and overshoes.

All non-disposable items and equipment that come into contact with body substances, for example beds, sex aids and bondage equipment, must be thoroughly cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Re-usable sex items must be regularly inspected, properly cleaned, disinfected, maintained and stored hygienically.

Spills

Blood and body substance spills must be cleaned up immediately and all waste products must be treated as if they are contaminated.

Paper towels should be used to clean small spills, then warm water, detergent and a standard disinfectant. Special care should be taken, such as wearing gloves, when cleaning up spills which contain body fluids to avoid transmission of bacteria and viruses.

For larger spills (the width of your hand), a spill kit that contains plastic bags should be used, sachets of granular disinfectant (to absorb the spill and minimise aerosols), PPE, and a scraper and pan. All disposable items in the spill kit should be replaced immediately after each use of the kit.

If possible, don’t use carpets, curtains and soft furnishings in an area where blood or body- substance spills could occur. In some premises, such as home-care settings, this is obviously not practical, so contaminated furnishings should be professionally cleaned and laundered – or replaced. Washable chair covers are an option.

Sharp objects

Sharp objects, including injecting equipment, may pose a risk for the transmission of blood-borne viruses.

If sharp objects are used within the premises, where practicable, make sure only disposable, single-use items are used.

If re-useable sharps are used, the Public Health Regulation 2012 states they must be sterilised at the premises or off-site, using a bench top autoclave maintained in accordance with AS 2182: Sterilisers steam benchtop. The AS outlines requirements for sharps sterilisation record keeping and skin penetration procedures. N.B. Any SSP that conducts skin penetration procedures must notify their local council. Refer to the NSW Health factsheet, How to sterilise your instruments and comply with the Public Health Regulation 2012.

Sharps disposal bins should be placed in all premises providing sexual services, including in workrooms where sharp objects are used and in the toilets, with no penalties for using them.

All sharps containers must comply with AS 4031: Non-reusable containers for the collection of sharp medical items used in health care, for the disposal of sharps, including injecting equipment.

It is not appropriate to dispose of sharps as domestic waste. NSW Health community sharps management can help you find a sharps disposal outlet nearby.

First aid

Every workplace, from one to two person operations up to much larger businesses, must provide first aid facilities. It is the employer’s legal responsibility to provide and maintain all first aid equipment.

Having someone on site with knowledge to administer first aid in the event of an accident or medical emergency can save a life or avert serious health complications. Employers should consider providing first aid training for staff.

Signs indicating the location of the nearest first aid kit and identifying who is trained in administering first aid should be displayed on each floor.

To determine your first-aid needs, consult your workers.

Pregnancy

Give pregnant women as much protection as possible. Develop a risk management approach in consultation with the worker that excuses them from certain duties, such as heavy lifting, and having to work the ordinary minimum number of hours per shift.

Hazardous manual tasks

Manual tasks cover a wide range of activities including massaging a client, and using bondage and discipline equipment. Some manual tasks are hazardous and may cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). These are the most common workplace injuries across Australia.

Injuries can occur when a task requires a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold, or restrain any person or thing involving one or more of the following:

  • repetitive or sustained force
  • high or sudden force
  • repetitive movement
  • sustained or awkward posture
  • exposure to vibration.

These factors directly stress the body and can lead to an injury.

Consult with your workers about the risks of each task they do, including sex activities. These will be the things that you may be able to change to eliminate or reduce the risk of MSD.

You can minimise the risk of MSD by ensuring:

  • beds have adequate back-support that allows for a variety of activities to be done comfortably to avoid strain on the body
  • massage tables are height adjustable and allow workers of different heights to avoid awkward postures
  • bondage and discipline equipment is well designed, fit for purpose and adjustable
  • adequate information, training and instruction is provided to workers, for example, safe use of the height adjustable massage table.

For more information, refer to the Code of practice: hazardous manual tasks.

Safe work procedures should also be developed for:

  • using equipment safely, including hoists
  • interacting with clients, the public and others, including managing aggressive or violent situations
  • emergency procedures
  • maintaining thermal comfort
  • managing blood and body substance exposure incidents
  • implementing post-injury testing, counselling and follow-up processes
  • ensuring confidentiality in all medical matters involving workers (past and present) and clients
  • keeping records of registers of incidents, outcomes and recommendations from workplace investigations and evaluations of the effectiveness of actions taken.
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