Safety for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers help people recover from illness and injury, but they face health and safety risks to themselves. They are exposed to a broad range of workplace hazards and health risks such as back injuries, potential drug and chemical exposure, needle stick injuries, blood-borne pathogens, latex allergy, laser hazards, x-ray hazards, radioactive material, waste anaesthetic gas exposure, workplace violence, and stress.

These safety tips will help health care workers to reduce their level of risk.

Use devices to reduce risk of musculoskeletal injuries
Healthcare workers who have to lift or transfer immobile patients between beds and wheelchairs risk musculoskeletal injuries. Use devices to assist where possible, such as electronic hoists, slings, and slip-sheets. If you do not have access to these devices, use the best lifting techniques to reduce the risk of injury.

Many healthcare workers regularly move medical supplies, goods, and equipment. There are many types of trolleys to assist. A Clax Cart is ideal for moving small items. Platform trolleys are ideal for moving medium-sized goods, and powered cage trolleys are a good solution for moving heavy items.

Chemical hazard safety

Healthcare workers handle some extremely hazardous chemicals. Exposure to chemotherapeutic agents and medications can be harmful to medical workers if not handled properly.

Medical facilities must train employees in how to handle hazardous substances safely and provide access to safety data sheets that have details about the composition of each chemical and its potential dangers.

When handling hazardous chemicals, healthcare workers must wear the correct protective equipment, such as gloves and if necessary, safety goggles.

Store hazardous chemicals and other substances safely by using the right type of dangerous goods storage or safety cabinet.

Blood borne pathogen safety
Healthcare workers who deal with their patients’ body fluids are exposed to blood borne pathogens. The risk of infection increases when patients have bacterial or viral infections that can be transmitted through body fluids as well as blood.

Always wear personal protective equipment such as a gown, gloves, safety goggles and a face shield to keep body fluids off the healthcare worker’s skin.

Hospitals and health care facilities must do everything possible to reduce and kill infection-causing microorganisms in their facility. Some best practices include:

  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Using antiseptics and disinfectant on the skin before surgical procedures or IV injections
  • Cleaning and decontaminating instruments
  • Immunising at-risk employees against Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and other pathogens

Sharps injuries

Used needles, scalpels and other sharp objects are usually contaminated, but healthcare workers frequently have to handle them. Avoid potential health hazards by handling sharp items carefully and by using a good disposal system for sharps and infectious waste.