Are hospitals safe for employees? Hospitals pose significant health and injury hazards to all staff. In fact, the National Security Council (NSC) reports that hospital staff members are 41% more likely to miss work due to occupational injuries or illnesses. Understandably, OSHA comes down hard on safety and health violations in medical settings. What dangers do employees face, and what can employers do about it?
Danger #1: Biological and Chemical Hazards
Every day, hospital employees face nearly constant exposure to biological, chemical, gas inhalation, and radiological hazards. Coming into contact with patients’ blood, excessive sanitizing or cleaning chemicals, anesthetic fumes, or even flu and cold germs can significantly increase employees’ likelihood of falling ill. Regular, responsible use of personal protective equipment (PPE) keeps most illnesses at bay. Lab coats, vinyl or latex gloves, rubber-soled shoes, and protective eye wear may be required. Doctors and attendants should wear lead-lined gloves and lead aprons when performing x-rays. Staff should also remember simple ways of reducing hazards. For example, keeping gloves on while grasping handles or t knobs will prevent coworkers from sharing germs.
Danger #2: Electrical Hazards
Hospital workers sustain injuries from shocks, electrical burns, and combustion, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. OSHA explains, “Damaged electrical cords can lead to possible shocks or electrocutions. A flexible electrical cord may be damaged by door or window edges, by staples and fastenings, by equipment rolling over it, or simply by aging.” Keeping electrical wiring off the floor, and preventing it from fraying and tangling, is essential.
Hospitals can easily reduce electrical injuries by fitting equipment with rubber grommets. Circular or oblong desk grommets redirect cords away from door, cabinet, and table edges, keeping wiring safely intact and out of the way. Similarly, professionals can use cable ties to secure and organize groups of electrical wiring.
Hospitals pose a variety of dangers to employees. Employers can keep workers safe by asking employees to wear protective equipment, such as gloves (whether they are handling patients or gripping t knobs), and keeping electrical wiring out of harm’s way.