The healthcare industry is among the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it currently employs over 18 million, 80% of which are women. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth is expected to continue by almost 26% through 2026. This trend may be related to an increasing aging population or an increase in the number of chronic conditions experienced by the population. Whatever the reason, nearly 4 million new jobs will be added by 2026, including in outpatient care, which has grown six times the rate of hospitals.
Healthcare workers face a wide range of safety challenges on the job, including physical injury from heavy lifting, exposure to chemicals and increasing latex allergies. In addition to being the largest growth sector in the economy, healthcare workers also experience a high number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses. Understanding how to prevent these makes it possible to reduce exposure and potential injury.
Infectious agents — It just makes sense that healthcare workers, exposed to those who are ill every day, will have an increased challenge steering clear of getting sick. Infectious organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites, can produce infectious disease. Hospitals, outpatient facilities and home care agencies all have policies and procedures to keep their employees from contracting a contagious illness. It is vital healthcare workers follow these as they were designed for their protection. Hand washing between patients, keeping your hands away from your nose and mouth and using universal precautions maybe three of the most important ways to reduce the spread of infection.
Physical challenges — Working in the healthcare field is physically challenging and demanding. Musculoskeletal injuries are a concern within the industry, and occur due to repeated lifting and transferring patients, especially while working in extremely awkward positions. When lifting, transferring or positioning patients, it is important to use proper body mechanics to protect your spine, hips and knees. How you sit, stand, lift and bend all have an impact on your potential for injury.
Home health care — Individuals who work in home health care have a unique set of challenges, including exposure to infectious disease and potential for physical injury. Home health care workers contribute to the well-being of others, but face challenges including violence in the home or community, unhygienic conditions, hostile animals, and illegal drugs and weapons. Home health care agencies create policies and procedures to address each of these potential issues, so it is important to know, understand and follow them. Most importantly, it is vital you trust your gut. If it “feels” to you as if the situation is dangerous, it is important to get out and get help.
Chemicals — Chemicals are used all over the hospital to clean, disinfect and sterilize work surfaces. Chemicals used to treat patients, such as antineoplastic drugs, aerosolized medications and anesthetic gases, are also chemical hazards to those for whom they were not intended. Some have an effect on the male and female reproductive systems, will trigger disease or increase your risk for developing allergies. Be aware of the specific procedures used around chemicals in the healthcare setting and follow the directions explicitly.
Are You Working in a Safe Environment?
At Anodyne, protecting the health and safety of our staff is one of our top concerns. We understand staying healthy is one of your top priorities too. Contact us today! We’ll help you find a healthcare position that’s right for you.