Hospitals and healthcare settings can be hazardous environments to work in. Nurses face multiple occupational health hazards every day – some obvious, others not so obvious.
In this post we’ll list some common occupational health hazards for nurses, and how to prevent them.
Slip, Trip and Fall Hazards in Hospitals
Slips, trips and falls are an occupational health hazard in most, if not all, working environments. And hospitals and healthcare settings are no exception. The difference is that slips, trips and falls in the healthcare sector can be particularly dangerous.
If nurses slip or trip while carrying delicate medical equipment, sharp instruments, hazardous samples or substances, or even trays of food, then they could cause some serious harm to themselves and others.
There may also be more slipping and tripping hazards in healthcare settings than in other workplaces, including spilled fluids, dropped or discarded gowns, clothing or bedding, and devices and equipment left out of place.
Thorough and comprehensive cleaning procedures can ensure that tripping and slipping hazards are addressed before they cause any problems. Fluid management is an important area of focus. Unless spills are cleaned as soon as possible, surfaces can remain slippery for hours.
We stock a range of spill kits to help hospitals address chemical and cytotoxic spills promptly, thoroughly, and effectively.
We also stock absorbent floor mats for better fluid management during procedures. Capable of absorbing up to 8.5 litres of water and 3.5 litres of saline, they gel liquids and become dry to the touch. So they immediately remove slipping hazards in surgical environments. And following the procedure, you can simply dispose of them, allowing for faster cleaning and swifter turnaround times.
Infection & Contamination Hazards for Nurses
Nurses work very closely with both staff and patients, and they regularly provide support during treatments and procedures. So there’s a constant risk of infection from coughs, sneezes, and other bodily fluids. And if nurses become contaminated, there’s the risk they’ll pass on these infections to other, more vulnerable patients.
But these aren’t the only infection and contamination risks in healthcare settings. Nurses must also consider bacteria, viruses and other organisms lingering on clothing and surfaces; VOCs and other chemicals; particulate matter from outside sources; and radiation from certain devices and procedures.
Standard infection control precautions can help nurses and other healthcare workers prevent and control infection risks at all levels. Precautions include thorough cleaning protocols and procedures; standards for PPE; good hand hygiene; cough and sneeze etiquette, and more.
Air quality consultations can also help nurses identify the sort of infection and contamination risks they might face, and the measures they can take to overcome them.
Finally, hospital-grade air purifiers can remove many of the common contaminants and harmful substances found in hospital air, including viruses, bacteria, microplastics, VOCs, particulate matter, and more. Our range of air purifiers for the healthcare sector can catch up to 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns.
Heavy Lifting in Healthcare Settings
Heavy lifting is another occupational risk that’s found in almost all healthcare settings. But once again, the risk for nurses can be particularly high. This is due to the sorts of items and objects that nurses might be required to move, from vulnerable patients to expensive and delicate medical devices.
Nurses risk sprains and back injuries whenever they move heavy objects. But if they struggle and falter while moving a vulnerable patient, there’s a risk of concussion, broken bones, or even death.
Adequate training in safe lifting techniques can help nurses manage these risks. Hospitals and healthcare settings should also have procedures and protocols in place for moving vulnerable patients. These might include using wheelchairs, stretchers and trolleys wherever possible, and never attempting to move a patient without assistance.
Stress and Exhaustion
There’s no denying that nursing is a tough job. Nurses face life and death situations every day. They work long hours while under considerable pressure, and often for insufficient pay. And as the NHS is currently facing a treatment backlog and a series of strikes and industrial action, it seems like things have never been more difficult for nurses and other healthcare workers.
All of this pressure is going to take its toll. Stress and exhaustion can be harmful in itself. But in the long-term, constant stress and exhaustion can lead to a number of other more serious health conditions.
Government plans to tackle the NHS backlog might reduce some of the pressures that nurses face in their roles. But even without the current issues the NHS faces, stress and exhaustion have been occupational hazards in the healthcare sector for years.
The Health Foundation issues a series of recommendations for fixing some of the problems the NHS is currently facing. They suggested that increasing staff numbers could increase hospitals’ capacity, which could mean shorter working hours and reduced workloads for nurses. They also suggested on-the-job mental health and wellbeing support for healthcare staff.
Addressing Occupational Health Hazards for Nurses
Get in touch to discuss how we can help you make your healthcare setting safer and more efficient for staff and patients alike.