Home > Professions > Safety of Health Care Workers

Safety of Health Care Workers

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 22 Aug 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Health Care Social Care Violence Msds

About 2.6 million people work in the UK’s health and social care sector. Although some of these workers have administrative posts, the rest provide health and social care to individuals and families in surgeries, hospitals and the community.

In these circumstances, safety is a complex issue. This is because every day health care workers encounter a large range of situations and people.

Violence

Health care staff experience up to four times more Work-related Violence than other workers. Employers need to assess the risks of this violence. They must then act to reduce the hazards.

Common measures include:

  • Training staff to deal with potentially violent people and situations
  • Installing security improvements to working environments
  • Adjusting the responsibilities and roles of staff

Employers should also maintain a strict record of violent incidents. This way, they can study any patterns that emerge and take action.

Musculoskeletal Problems

A large part of health care workers’ jobs is physical. Workers may have to move and handle patients, or they may have to adopt and hold unnatural positions when giving treatment.

Across the UK, Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) affect one million people each year. Within the health care sector, MSDs cause 40% of sickness absence.

There are a number of regulations that relate to MSDs. The most relevant to health care workers are the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended 2002) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Employers need to keep risky Manual Handling activities to a minimum. This isn’t always easy in the health care sector. But employers must do what they can. Employers must also ensure they have identified and assessed any unavoidable manual handling activities. Assessments must include recommendations on reducing the risks of injuries.

Other types of risk assessment should always consider the hazards of any health care work that may cause MSDs.

Needle-Stick Injuries

Needle-stick injuries are not common among health care workers. But the implications of such an injury are serious.

The main concern is that a needle-stick injury may expose a worker to blood-borne viruses (BBVs). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the most common of these.

Fortunately, there is a vaccine that protects against hepatitis B. No such vaccine exists for hepatitis C or HIV, however.

To help prevent needle-stick injuries, the Department of Health issued guidelines in 1998. Among the recommendations are the following:

  • Never overfill sharps containers
  • Never put a sheath back on a needle
  • Keep all skin abrasions and cuts covered with plasters
  • Use goggles or visors when there is a risk of body fluids or blood splashing into faces
  • Wear disposable aprons, gowns and gloves when body fluids or blood may be present
  • Wash hands after contact with each patient

Slips and Trips

Slips and Trips are the greatest cause of injuries to health care workers. 53% of major injuries among NHS staff occur because of slipping and tripping.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is clear about slips and trips. Employers must introduce controls that keep health care workers from harm.

Staff also have a responsibility. They must employ the safety equipment that employers provide. And the makers and suppliers of the equipment must ensure their products are safe to use.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I work as a care assistant. My time schedule has individual clients. if a client cancels on the morning I am scheduled to attend this person. am i entitled to be paid? Am i entitled to 24 hours notice of cancellation?
jay - 22-Aug-14 @ 10:38 PM
is it safe to run with scissors
eldogius - 15-Jan-14 @ 2:45 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Children’s nurse
    Re: Objecting to Changes in an Employment Contract
    I have worked for same ward nhs for 27 years . Over this time the shift times changed from 2x 8 hour shifts…
    16 October 2019
  • Doe
    Re: Returning to Work After Absence Due to Anxiety or Depression
    Hi i worked in a care home been there 2 months regularly working short staffed i was a…
    16 October 2019
  • Will
    Re: Violence at Work
    5 days ago I was threatened by a fellow member of staff both verbally and physically ( pushing his chest against my own) .I instantly requested…
    15 October 2019
  • Yogi
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    Just been sold food from kfc and the foo sell by time label had lapsed by hr. Is this illegal?
    14 October 2019
  • Ian
    Re: Driving at Work
    We are currently experiencing temperatures in excess of 35 degrees I am being asked to drive long distances a heavy goods vehicle with no air…
    10 October 2019
  • Steve
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    Average is paid for all holludays during the year
    10 October 2019
  • Clanny
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    Do you get your average wage at both your summer and christmas holiday or is it only worked out for one of the 2…
    10 October 2019
  • Steve
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    I have an issue i cannot get answered, i work 4 on 4 off 12 hour shifts, days and nights, if i take a holliday im…
    9 October 2019
  • gassey boy 55437t4
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    no you do not need toilets as long as you have cups and a hose all is good PS. learnt all this from my health and social adviser who…
    9 October 2019
  • Meme
    Re: Violence at Work
    A week ago a coworker who was stressed and upset verbally attacked me because i asked for my tables food repeatedly. This was done in front of…
    8 October 2019