Friday, October 31, 2014

Occupational Safety in Home/Community Care

A new report from European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) focuses on emerging OSH risks in the healthcare sector, with a particular emphasis on home and community care. According to the report, the healthcare sector employs nearly 10% of the EU workforce--of which 77% are women.

Small work spaces, lack of training, and working solo with little or no supervision are just a few of the factors that contribute to the myriad hazards home healthcare workers face each day. These hazards include biological and chemical risks (such as needlestick injuries and handling hazardous substances), ergonomic risks caused by patient handling, and psychosocial risks due to long hours and potentially aggressive behavior from clients.

EU-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatschek says this focus on worker safety in the healthcare sector is overdue. "The care of patients is quite rightly the main priority—but sometimes this has been to the detriment of workers’ safety and health," she says. "We need to get the message across that, in order to achieve and maintain high-quality patient care, we must make workplace safety and health a priority." The problem is compounded by a growing shortage of skilled and experienced professionals, an aging workforce and the emergency of new care pathways to address multiple chronic conditions. The report examines all of these trends and presents several recommendations for current practice and future research.

Download the complete Current and Emerging OSH Issues in the Healthcare Sector report or review the executive summary. Learn more on healthcare worker safety on the EU-OSHA healthcare sector page.