Healthcare workers face a wide range of hazards on the job from injuries to illnesses, so a focus on worker health and safety is critical for the health industry. Ontario’s Ministry of Labour introduced the Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps to help prevent injuries in the workplace. Although it is not composed directly for the health industry, the common sense steps easily apply to all workplaces to help promote a safety conscious environment. Step 1 is Get on Board, which encourages all parties to do their part to be safe, from employers, to supervisors, to workers. Step 2 is Get in the Know about common hazards, workplace hazards, proper protection and safety gear. Step 3 is Get Involved, which focuses on working together, participating in safety committees, and being a safety role model. Step 4 is Get More Help when there is a need. Ask for more information and resources, and refuse unsafe work. 1
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services operates NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Healthcare workers have their own devoted category under the care of this agency. NIOSH lists Healthcare as the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing over 18 million workers. These workers “face a wide range of hazards on the job, including needlestick injuries, back injuries, latex allergy, violence, and stress. Although it is possible to prevent or reduce healthcare worker exposure to these hazards, healthcare workers continue to experience injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Cases of nonfatal occupational injury and illness amid healthcare workers are amongst the highest of any industry sector.”2
The NIOSH Healthcare Worker webpage list numerous links to articles, policies, regulations, procedures, and guidelines concerning the hazards healthcare workers face. They aim to provide information and resources for preventing illness and injury and providing actions for control.
1. Ontario. Ministry of Labour. (2013). Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps. Retrieved from http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pdf/workbooktext.pdf