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Common on the job hazards for healthcare employees

How is healthcare defined? The short answer is broad. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency dedicated to maintaining safe working conditions for millions of Americans, define healthcare, as the "action of providing direct or indirect health services to individuals in various settings."

Succinctly put, healthcare workers include everybody who provides a health-related service to another individual, including nurses, doctors, dentists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, surgeons, vets, dieticians, massage therapists and everyone in between.

Workplace Hazards

A career in healthcare can be financially and mentally rewarding. It can also be physically and mentally taxing. Hazards, separated into three categories below, are galore for many healthcare employees.

  • Infectious agents: Bacteria, viruses and fungi
  • Chemical hazards: Disinfectants and other cleaning agents, patient drug (pills, liquids, gases and aerosols) and lab used chemicals
  • Physical hazards: lifting of patients, repetitive tasks, long hours, workplace violence and the maneuvering of medical equipment and devices like X-rays, lasers or radioactive materials

Specific occupational hazards

The causes of workplace injuries can differ depending on your profession. Broken down by occupation, the following risks lead to the most on the job injuries for healthcare workers.

  • Hospital workers: These employees suffer more workplace injuries and illnesses than those working in manufacturing and construction jobs. Hospital workers most commonly sustain their injuries due to lifting and moving patients, slips and falls. For those who work with psychiatric and substance abuse patients, their injuries frequently occur due to workplace violence.
  • Home healthcare workers: physical injuries, like broken bones, sprains and strains are most common due to lifting and maneuvering patients. Because the duties of home healthcare workers occur in the homes of others, they must also contend with the following risks:
    • Bloodborne pathogens
    • Biological hazards
    • Animal bites
    • Domestic violence
    • Slips
    • Falls
    • Driving accidents
  • Nursing home workers: These employees workplace hazards don't differ much from traditional hospital workers, other than a high risk of facing workplace violence. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states, on behalf of thebalancesmb.com, that one-quarter of all workplace assaults occur in nursing home and residential care facilities.

While workplace injuries won't ever wholly cease, but steps can be taken to lower your chances of having to endure them.

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