Hospital workers dedicated to caring for others often navigate a minefield of occupational hazards in their daily routines. Many dangers these professionals face can be mitigated through proper safety equipment, procedures and protocols.
Understanding these challenges is crucial not only for the workers themselves but also for the institutions that must provide safe working conditions for all workers.
1. Slip and falls
One of the most common risks in hospitals is slip and fall accidents. Slippery floors, whether from spills or cleaning processes, pose a significant hazard. These accidents can lead to severe injuries, including fractures or concussions, and are a leading cause of workplace injury in healthcare settings. Wet floor signs and non-slip shoes can prevent some of these injuries.
2. Sharps sticks
Sharps sticks, where hospital staff get pricked or cut by needles, scalpels or other sharp instruments, are a significant danger. These injuries can lead to severe infections, including bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Proper sharps handling is critical to prevent issues.
3. Biohazard exposure
Exposure to biohazardous materials is another critical risk for hospital staff. This includes contact with blood, body fluids and other potentially infectious materials. Such exposure can occur through spills, splashes or handling of medical waste. Using personal protective equipment is beneficial for stopping this type of exposure.
4. Communicable diseases
Hospital workers are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases. This risk includes illnesses like tuberculosis, influenza and MRSA. The close contact with patients and the potential for airborne or contact transmission makes communicable diseases a significant occupational hazard. Handwashing and wearing masks may prevent some of these infections.
5. Lifting injuries
Lifting injuries are a common concern in hospitals. Healthcare workers often need to move or lift patients, leading to musculoskeletal injuries, particularly in the back and shoulders. Proper lifting techniques and assistive equipment can prevent these injuries.
Any hospital worker who suffers an injury should ensure they get immediate medical attention. Some may be tempted to finish out a shift, but this might make the injury worse than it was initially. Workers’ compensation should provide benefits to these injured workers.