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Delaware Healthy Workplaces



Healthy Workplaces - Employees - Healthcare
Hyperlink to Healthy Workplaces - Employees - Dental Offices

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Worker Hazards in Healthcare Settings

Hospitals, medical and dental offices are environments that most people seek and use to improve their health and well-being. But for the staff that work in these facilities, it can be one of the most hazardous, complex work environments there is. Office environment to infection control, operating rooms to emergency departments, the everyday responsibilities taken on by medical personnel vary as widely as the hazards they may face.

  • Drugs and Medications
    • Exposure to hazardous drugs may occur through inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion, or injection.
    • Adverse health effects from hazardous drug exposure may include harm to internal organs, damage to the reproductive system, genetic damage, birth defects, and cancer.
    • About 8 million U.S. healthcare workers are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs, including pharmacy and nursing personnel, physicians, environmental services workers, workers in research laboratories, veterinary care workers, and shipping and receiving personnel.
  • Hazardous Chemicals
    • Extensive use of disinfectants, sanitizers and other cleaning agents can pose risks to workers in all medical facilities.
    • Medical labs use many different chemicals and produce quantities of hazardous waste as a result.
    • Accidental misuse or intentional abuse of hazardous drugs can lead to health complications.
  • Radiation
    • X-ray technicians, even with proper procedures and equipment, are at risk for exposure to ionizing radiation.
    • Use of radiation for x-ray and other procedures raises the risk of exposure for many medical professionals.
  • Infection
    • Working with ill and injured patients increases the risk of exposure to harmful infections.
    • Medical environments are stressful workplaces. Personnel often work long hours under extreme conditions, weakening the immune system and increasing potential for infection.
  • Physical Hazards
    • Storage use and disposal of needles and sharp instruments.
    • Risk of physical injury while moving patients and equipment.

The complexity of the healthcare environment, and the very nature of many of the responsibilities, means that its employees face an array of hazards not seen in other industries. Healthcare workers helping others recover from illness and injury need to be aware of the risks they face themselves. The risks that healthcare and medical professionals may face can include:

  • Several types of cancer
  • Reproductive and hormonal problems
  • Skin irritation and allergic reactions
  • Respiratory problems including asthma
  • Infections and biological contaminants

Learn more about the products and materials you are working with and how to protect yourself.



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Contact the Office of
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OH Website
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Important
Links


Guidelines for
Protecting the Safety
and Health of
Healthcare Workers

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NIOSH Safety
and Health Topic
- Healthcare

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ATSDR Case Studies
in Environmental
Medicine

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Hazardous Drugs
__________

Small Business Guide for Ethylene Oxide
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Hazardous Chemicals in Healthcare

Dental Offices.
Hyperlink to Healthy Workplaces - Employees - Medical Professions

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Medical Professions.

Hyperlink to Healthy Workplaces - Employees

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