The job-related hazards faced by health care workers are numerous. Fractures, infections and violent attacks are just a few of them.
Many people may be surprised at some of these hazards that confront physicians, nurses, clinical staff, trainees, technologists, emergency medical technicians, therapists, and maintenance, cafeteria and waste disposal workers.
Hazardous chemicals and viruses
Among the hazards that may lead to serious and life-changing injuries to health care workers include:
- Musculoskeletal injuries: Lifting patients and heavy medical supplies and equipment may take a toll on a person’s body. Even with proper lifting form, injuries to the back, shoulder, neck and knees are not uncommon.
- Hazardous chemicals and materials: A hospital’s supplies include pharmaceuticals, ammonia, disinfectants, pesticides and mercury. If not effectively managed, any of these can lead to health problems such as respiratory illness as well as damage to the nervous system and internal organs.
- Viruses and bloodborne pathogens: The COVID-19 pandemic really brought this hazard more to light. Exposure to respiratory droplets, saliva, blood and other bodily fluids may lead to infections such as tuberculosis, influenza, hepatitis and HIV. Gowns, gloves and surgical masks are necessary for many health care workers.
- Stress: The pressures faced by health care workers may lead to physical and internal tensions along with anxiety. Such circumstances can prove demanding on their physical and mental health.
- Violence: Unruly and unstable patients can provoke violent attacks on physicians, nurses and support staff. Family members of patients and co-workers also may resort to physical violence.
These are not the typical job hazards faced by the average person. Health care workers should be aware that any of these dangers may end their careers.
Workers at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes face these challenges nearly every day. While their training provides a solid foundation in how to perform their jobs, sometimes, they may be caught unprepared by an incident such as a violent attack.