Slips, Trips and Falls are common when working in a hospital environment. Liquids like vomit, blood, urine, water or even faeces can be a slip hazard for nurses. Tripping over equipment, chords or other things is also a common hazard. There is also a risk of items falling onto the worker. To prevent injury, this article shows causes, statistics and prevention of slips, trips and falls in the work place. Recognising risks can prevent injury. Eg, seeing a spill on the floor, creates a risk of slipping and causing injury to yourself. Simple measures like cleaning, clearing chords or equipment and clearing walk ways will assist with managing slip, trip and fall hazards.
Being a nurse can be a physically demanding job. Manual handling is a big aspect of being a nurse but when it is carried out incorrectly, it can cause both short and long term injury. The link is a manual handling guide for nurses. Some risk factors commonly associated with manual handling injuries to nurses include, undesirable postures, frequency of movements, duration of movements, forces and weights involved and characteristics of the patient, eg. Level of dependency and cooperation. Generally, this guideline will assist in protecting health care providers by controlling and eliminating risks.
When dealing with patients at close proximity, nurses can be exposed to contagious infections and diseases. This link provides safety procedurea for infectious diseases that can be transmitted through air, blood and hand. Safety precaustions must be taken seriously in order to prevent nurses from contracting infectious diseases.
Common precausions Hand hygiene is the simple and common form of safety precaution. This includes washing hands with water and soap or applying an alocohol-based hand hygiene product. Any open wounds, cuts or abrasions on the hands must be covered with waterproof dressings at all times.
Personal Protective Equipment must be worn at all timese. These include gloves, eye/face protection and gowns.
Medications or supplies like syringes or alchool swabs should only be used on the patient alone and disposed immediately after use.
Sharps should be disposed in the approved sharps container.
The guideline for prevention and control of infection assists in the spread of infectious diseases not just to the nurses but also the patients.
This is sandy, apart from being a third year nursing student she happents to be my bestfriend. She tells me how tough her job is but she loves a challenge!
Phyllis Manoka's insight:
Infectious Diseases Nurses can be exposed to contagious infections and diseases when dealing with patients at close proximity. These infectious diseases can be transmitted through the air (eg. TB), through blood (eg. AIDS, Hepatitis B and C) and though hand transmission. Safety measure like washing hands and disposing of sharps appropriately, need to be used.
Chemicals Sandy says chemicals in the hospital environment may cause skin reactions or respiratory problems. These chemicals may be from janitorial cleaning, disinfectors, sterilizers, anaesthetic gases, drugs, medication or even latex in gloves.
Manual Handling Being a nurse can be a physically demanding job. Force, repetition and awkward postures of prolonged activities can put the safety of a nurse at risk. For sandy, working at a hospital keeps her on her feet for the hours she’s on shift. This results in sore and aching feet by the end of her shift.
Radiation This hazard came as a surprise to me! According to Sandy, nurses can be exposed to radiation though x rays, radioisotopes and lasers.
Slips, Trips and Falls Liquids like vomit, blood, urine, water or even faeces can be a slip hazard for nurses. Tripping over equipment, chords or other things is also a common hazard. There is also a risk of items falling onto the worker.
Abuse Nurses often suffer from both physical and verbal abuse when providing care for patients. Not only does this physically affect the worker but psychologically as well. Exposure to traumatic abusive events consequently results in stress within working environments.
This is Eare. Eare does a carpentry couse at TAFE and she is well and truely aware of the Health and Safety regulations when it comes to being a carpenter!
Phyllis Manoka's insight:
Chemicals The use of solvents and other chemical related materials can be a risk to Eare at work. She tells me that often she returns home coughing after a practical class at TAFE. Now this is where the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) come into use. Although this may also be her fault for neglecting safety measures, her mentors or teachers are also to blame for not emphasising the use and importance of PPE and safety measures. These chemicals can leave workers with allergic reactions, dermatitis or respiratory problems. Workers are to take extra care when dealing with flammable chemicals.
Extreme Temperatures As a carpenter, Eare would spend some time outdoors in extreme temperatures. If you consider them working in high extreme temperatures with their PPE and overalls, clearly there would be a huge risk of heat stroke or dehydration among the workers. A tiny tip to Eare, always stay hydrated, drink heaps of water.
Sprains and Strains Hammering, fixing or working in an awkward posture can leave the worker at risk of having muscle sprains and strains. Eare says, she often gets leg strains when she’s too busy working and forgets that she’s working in an awkward position.
Heights As we all know working at heights increases the risk of falling. Although Eare has not yet come to that stage of working at heights yet, she says once you’re off ground level and working at heights, your safety awareness increases and you become very careful when working.
Wood dust Well this is definitely a surprise for me! I just thought it was harmless. However, there is a risk of getting cancer from wood dust. Who would have thought that wood dust would be this harmful!
When providing care for patients, nurses often suffer from both physical and verbal abuse. This has become common in a hospital setting as patients feel like their needs are not being met or they are not taken seriously. Patients under the influence of alcohol and drugs or those experiencing psychiatric trauma, can be unpredictable and lash out verbally and physically. Even limited staff can cause tempers to flare and patience to wear thin. The link attached provides information regarding causes and control when dealing with abusive patients. Generally, the detailed information provides tips on how to deal with abusive patients and how to prevent abuse in the workplace.
Chemicals in the hospital environment may cause skin reactions and respiratory problems. These chemicals can be from janitorial cleaning, disinfectors, sterilizers, anaesthetic gases, drugs, medication or even latex gloves. The link gives detail description of the procedures that need to be carried out to manage hazardous chemicals. Following, the safety procedures will reduce risk and hazard factors.
Briefly, the first step in hazard control is hazard identification. This, in turn, requires a knowledge of the physical properties, chemical constituents and toxicological properties of the chemicals in question. The second step is characterizing the risk. Does the chemical pose as a risk to health care provider? The last step is to assess the actual exposure.
Laura is a chef by profession. Oh the joys of being related to this chick, she certainly knows how to cook up a storm! :D
Phyllis Manoka's insight:
Manual Handling Lifting and carrying heavy boxes of ingredients can result in injury if your posture is wrong.
Cuts and Burns According to Laura, this is a common hazard in the kitchen. Consisting of sharp utensils and hot surfaces, workers must take extra care when working around them.
Slips and Trips Often during a busy shift the floors become slippery from spills, grease or moisture. This creates a slipping hazard. While trips can be common as well, equipment, boxes and other things must be stored away appropriately to avoid the hazard of trips.
Chemicals These include powerful cleansers, grease cutter and sanitizers are used in the kitchen. These chemicals may contain toxins that puts the health and safety of the worker at risk. Risk is increased when these chemicals are used incorrectly and health and safety regulations are being ignored.
Long Hours Laura says ever since she became a chef, working long hours have since then interfered with her normal sleeping patterns, increased fatigue and mental stress. Clearly the long hours have affected Laura not physically but mentally as well.
Anne-marie is a hairdresser. She definately loves her job and her bubbly personality usually adds that finishing shine to a customers hair! However, the things she told me about her job changed my perspective on hair dressing!
Phyllis Manoka's insight:
Electrical Styling Equipment
Straightening, curling, blow drying and other electrical styling equipment can often be faulty and dangerous to both customer and employee. Anne explained to me that to reduce the risk of electrocution, an inspector regularly tests out the styling equipment in order to confirm the safety of these eletrical equipment.
Burns are definately the common one, she says. Anne has shown me some pretty scars from the heated styling equipment she uses. However, other burns may include chemical burns and burns from washing out the customers hair with hot water.
Anne's profession includes the use of scissors and blades. When trimming or styling a customers hair, she has to be extremely careful not to cut herself. She occasionally has to sharpen these instruments and in the process ends up a little cut on her finger. However as hands are the main tool in the hairdressing profession, she is always careful not to hurt herself.
I knew chemicals like hair dyes and perms would be greatly involved in the job but I never really thought about the effects of these chemicals on the hairdressers. Anne told me that once she did four hair dyes in a day. By the end of the day she went home with a massive headache and an itchy throat from inhaling all those different chemicals. Sometimes hairdressers can get a sever reaction from wearing the wrong type of gloves whilst using these chemicals.
Sprains and Strains
Because you would be standing up all day long and doing someone's hair, your posture needs to be correct in order to avoid injury. Initially I thought that standing up for hours would only cause your feet to ache, however according to Anne, hairdressers often suffer from sprains and strains in their neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrist, back and legs. Often the posture they choose can influence the risk of having sprains and strains.
Teresa works at a disability centre. Her job basically consists of providing clients with support in personal hygiene, domestic assistance and social support. Although I didn't seem aware, there are actually heaps of hazards and safety measures that need to be carried out in her job!
Phyllis Manoka's insight:
Manual Handling Occasionally Teresa carries her clients from the bathroom to the bedroom. Being the tall girl that she is, most of her clients are a reasonable size for her to carry. However, due to her awkward posture she usually suffers from back aches and leg strains from incorrect manual handling. Her job is often physically demanding and according to her most injuries are associated with lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding, moving or at times restraining people and objects during provision of care. However most manual handling injuries are preventable through better approaches to managing risks.
Infectious Diseases When undertaking personal care or cleaning activities within close proximity of clients, workers may be exposed to infectious diseases. Infectious diseases can be airborne ( for example meningitis or tuberculosis), blood borne (like HIV or Hepatitis) and faecal-oral borne (such as gastroenteritis). This is where Teresa practices her standard workplace practices like washing hands, cleaning up spills, sterilizing shared kitchen utensils, wearing protective clothing and disposing of contaminated waste appropriately.
Workplace Violence Often during working hours clients become non-compliant and aggression is often used. Violence or aggressive behaviours from clients usually arise through communication difficulties (eg. inability to express needs verbally to workers), fear (eg. Changes with workers), feelings of frustration or even experience of being abused. Workplace violence includes physical assault like spitting, verbal abuse or threats, threats with a weapon, sexual assault, robbery and vandalism. Teresa mentioned that her safety is her priority. So when she’s in a violent situation, she immediately leaves the client. She is never to put herself at risk when there is violence in the workplace.
Slips, Trips and Falls This is a common hazard encountered in the Disability sector. These include uneven or slippery surfaces, falls from heights or from stairs, tripping over things lying on the floor etc. These causes of incidents can range from incorrect footwear, inattention, poor lighting or unpredictable work environment.
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