Health care facilities require a variety of workers in many different roles to keep operations moving as smoothly as possible. These workers range from physicians and nurses to therapists, maintenance and cafeteria staff to help patients recover.
And every day, workers at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes face job-related hazards most people in the workforce can only imagine. Needle pricks and exposure to chemicals and diseases can lead to drastic and dangerous consequences. That is why their employers must better protect them.
Viruses and violence
These situations are just why health care facilities must provide proper training to ensure the safety of their workers. Here are some of the hazards faced by health care workers:
- Musculoskeletal injuries: Lifting patients and moving them from beds, wheelchairs, exam tables and toilets place strain on muscles, nerves, ligaments, bones and joints. Among the more common injuries is back strain.
- Sharps injuries: Scalpels and needles often contain blood and other bodily fluids. Such sharp objects may lead to a penetrating stab wound, exposing health care workers to infections and disease. Proper training in handling needles and how to safely dispose of them is essential.
- Chemical and drug exposure: So many hazards exist and include chemicals such as ammonia and mercury as well as antiviral drugs and those required for cancer treatment. Some of these hazards may lead to burns and respiratory ailments and even potentially cause cancer.
- Viruses and pathogens: The COVID-19 virus had health care workers on alert. Disease-carrying pathogens may be found in respiratory droplets, saliva and blood. Exposure may lead to illnesses that include tuberculosis, influenza, hepatitis and HIV.
- Violence: Physical attacks are possible from mentally unstable patients. Assaults also may originate with troublesome family members and co-workers. The American Hospital Association noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 44% of nurses dealt with physical violence.
These are workplace hazards faced nearly every day by health care workers.
Employers are responsible
Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities must provide the proper training and equipment to allow health care workers to safely perform their roles. It is their duty to protect the many health care workers needed to keep these facilities efficiently operating.