According to the government of Canada, there are more than 880,000 workers are employed in the province’s health care sector and the range of risks they are exposed to is considerable, as health care ranks second highest for lost time injuries (LTI) among all sectors (data from 2016 reports). These are injuries on the job that result in the loss of productive work time.
Considering these facts, in Canada the government saw the need to create a Health Care Health and Safety Program that enforces provincial workplace safety laws in the health care sector. It was designed to protect workers in settings like long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals, treatment clinics, and professional offices and agencies, including medical laboratories.
Canada, however, is not the only territory that has a program to look after its healthcare workers. Other places are implementing theirs, especially after the World Health Organization (WHO) called on governments and health care leaders to “address persistent threats to the health and safety of health workers and patients,” and amid the pandemic, WHO representatives said that healthcare workers play a “vital role” in society and that “no country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe.”
These days, when healthcare workers are affected by occupational hazards but also longer shifts, shortages of skilled professionals, and increased patient and resident needs due to several factors; protecting them and helping them perform their duties in safer environments seems to be the best way to ensure the stability of all healthcare systems.
Healthcare Worker Safety in Canada and US
These healthcare worker safety tips apply during the pandemic and beyond:
- Healthcare workers should use caution when handling needles or other sharp objects and dispose of contaminated ones in puncture-proof, labeled, closable containers.
- When it comes to touch contamination, healthcare workers should work from clean to dirty and limit opportunities in which they could contaminants with hazardous materials, like adjusting their glasses, rubbing their nose, or touching their face with gloves that have been in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces or patients.
- Healthcare workers should also avoid unnecessary touching of environmental surfaces such as light switches and door handles with contaminated gloves and be careful about where they dispose of all their PPE.
- In these times of COVID-19, healthcare workers should perform as many tasks as possible in areas away from patients who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
- Healthcare workers should act carefully around patients that are suspected to have violent behaviour either due to mental illnesses like dementia, or the use of narcotics.
- Healthcare workers should take action to improve their own mental health by taking time off to relax, practice sports of any hobby they like, and rest. They should also participate or be aware of the health worker safety policies that apply to them.
In closing, we believe that on top of these healthcare worker safety tips, doctors, nurses, PSWs, DSWs, and everyone in the healthcare field should be informed of the risks they are exposed to on the job, including, as previously stated, the exposure to hazardous biological, chemical and physical agents, slips, trips and falls, workplace violence, contact with and struck-by-object injuries, infections and infectious diseases, and construction hazards. We are certain that knowledge is key to keeping healthcare workers protected and healthy in their workplaces so they can safely work on protecting others. Caring Support serves as a central resource for healthcare workers and employers to easily connect and communicate, accelerating and simplifying the hiring process while saving time and money. It is a revolutionary tool truly dedicated to the healthcare sector. For more information and sign up for free click here.