Improving Workplace Safety in the Healthcare Industry

Improving Workplace Safety in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare employees expose themselves to a number of hazards in their day-to-day work that other industries do not—it is the nature of the job. A doctor, for example, exposes him or herself to any variety of diseases while treating patients. Surgeons run the risk of injuring themselves with blades, needles, and other equipment. Emergency room staff members run the risk of encountering violent patients. Even medical scientists have to take care not to expose themselves to chemicals and hazardous drugs.

Healthcare Takes the Brunt of Nonlethal Workplace Injuries

Every industry has its own fair share of workplace dangers. The healthcare industry, however, has the highest number of nonfatal work-related injuries. When looking at statistics, the reason why is obvious: they are not following best safety practices. In a recent CDC healthcare study, researchers discovered the following.

  • When using hazardous aerosolized drugs:
    • 22% reported not always donning safety gloves
    • 69% did not always make use of protective gowns
    • 49% were not vigilant about utilizing respiratory safety equipment.
  • When using high-level disinfectants:
    • 44% did not always make use of protective gowns
    • 9% reported not always donning safety gloves

While these numbers are concerning, they are not surprising. The study also found that 17% of respondents never received training on using disinfectants, and 19% indicated that their employer did not make the procedures regarding safe handling readily available. Of those that did receive training, a whopping 42% reported the training was over a year prior.

How to Address Healthcare Employee Safety

While most medical facilities possess safety guidelines, they are not enforcing them. Without continued training, employees are likely to forget best practices. Some simple tips to improve healthcare employee safety include:

  1. Wearing the appropriate protective equipment when administering hazardous drugs or using disinfectants. This includes gloves, gowns, and respiratory protection.
  2. Holding regular training to address best practices to diminish contact with aerosolized drugs, high-level disinfectants, and other corrosive substances.
  3. Keeping safety policies and procedures available to all staff in an easy to access location.

Any injury that an employee could have avoided is an unacceptable one. By enforcing existing safety procedures and following best practices, employers and employees can reduce their workplace risks and the likelihood of injury. Training frequency is also vital. Annual training is not often enough as knowledge is lost without reinforcement. Healthcare employers should aim for quarterly safety reviews to ensure employees are up to date with current best practices. To learn more about reducing risk within the healthcare industry, contact the experts at Trion.