The health care industry has a strong presence in the Peoria area, providing jobs for hundreds of workers while treating patients and saving lives every day. But health care workers face unique job hazards that can put them out of work for weeks or months.
Workers in the health care industry have some of the highest rates of non-fatal job-related injuries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Chemical hazards and physical assaults
Among the work-related hazards that confront health care workers nearly every day include:
- Musculoskeletal injuries from lifting: Nurses and aides often lift patients, placing them into wheelchairs, beds, toilets and exam tables. A wrong lift can lead to back strain as well as harm to muscles, ligaments, bones, joints and nerves.
- Chemical hazards: Hazardous chemicals are not uncommon in health care settings. Used to treat patients, clean and sterilize medical supplies and instruments, chemicals can harm workers just through simple contact and inhalation. This is why workers should wear the right personal protective equipment such as masks, protective eyewear and gloves.
- Physical assaults: Certain patients who may have dementia or psychiatric disorders may flail about during violent mood swings. Workers may sustain bruises, abrasions, cuts and fractures in attempting to control the patient.
- Infections and diseases: Bloodborne pathogens may lead to serious illnesses among health care workers. Patients’ blood, saliva and other bodily fluids may contain hepatitis and HIV.
- Needle jabs: Needles and syringes may contain contaminants and, potentially, lead to infections, including hepatitis, HIV and syphilis. It is crucial that health care professionals undergo essential training in how to properly work with needles.
The hazards are there and can dramatically affect the health of any health care worker.
Aware, alert and trained
Hospitals and clinics require a safe and health staff. But, every day, they face workplace hazards that the typical worker can only imagine. Health care workers must be aware and alert of these potential dangers, know how to deal with them, but also must have the proper training from their employer.