Health and safety of healthcare staff
Workers employed in the health care sector have to deal with a wide range of activities and environments that pose a threat to their health and put them at risk of occupational disease or work-related accidents. This section provides detailed information about such risks and effective methods of assessing and eliminating or minimising them.
Many of the settings in which health care workers carry out their jobs and the multiplicity of tasks they perform can present a great variety of hazards. The healthcare sector is large, employing around 10% of all workers throughout the European Union. More than three quarters of them are women.
The nature of their work, whether delivering frontline care for the physically or mentally impaired, or handling patients or providing cleaning services, makes it absolutely vital that health and safety is a priority in this sector. Yet European data show that the proportion of healthcare workers considering that their health and safety is at risk because of work they do is higher than the average across all sectors in the EU. In particular, exposure to threats of physical violence and actual acts of violence from colleagues and non-colleagues is highly prevalent compared to other sectors.
The range of risks faced by health workers includes:
- Biological risks such as infections caused y needlestick injuries
- Chemical risks including drugs used in the treatment of cancer and disinfectants
- Physical risks such as ionising radiation
- Ergonomic risks, for example, patient handling
- Psychosocial risks including violence and shift work
This section offers, among other things, case studies, examples of good practice and checklists to help those who are dealing with health and safety at the workplace assess possible risks and monitor safety processes.