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HEALTHCARE WORKERS

Healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing over 18 million workers. Women represent nearly 80% of the healthcare work force. Health care workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including needlestick injuries, back injuries, latex allergy, violence, and stress. Although it is possible to prevent or reduce healthcare worker exposure to these hazards, healthcare workers continue to experience injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Cases of nonfatal occupational injury and illness among to healthcare workers are among the highest of any industry sector. By contrast, two of the most hazardous industries, agriculture and construction, are safer today than they were a decade ago.

Spotlight

Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses

training nurses The workplace violence prevention course is designed to give healthcare workers an opportunity to acquire free workplace violence prevention training while earning free continuing education units.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging cause of viral respiratory illness, which is frequently very severe. It was first described in several countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula and in travelers returning from there. MERS has not spread in a sustained way in communities. Our understanding of MERS is still evolving.

MERS can be spread through close contact and has been transmitted from patients to healthcare workers. To aid providers and facilities, CDC has developed two checklists that identify key actions that can be taken now to enhance preparedness for MERS-CoV infection control.

CDC has developed comprehensive infection control recommendations. These include standard, contact, and airborne precautions. CDC recommends following standard procedures, per hospital policy and manufacturers' instructions, for cleaning and/or disinfection of environmental surfaces and equipment, textiles and laundry, and food utensils and dishware. CDC also provides lab biosafety guidelines for handling MERS-CoV specimens. On May 2, 2014, the first confirmed case of MERS-CoV was reported in a traveler to the United States.

NIOSHTIC-2 Search

NIOSHTIC-2 Search Results on Health Care Workers
NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

General Resources

Considerations for Selecting Protective Clothing used in Healthcare for Protection against Microorganisms in Blood and Body Fluids
This document provides an overview of scientific evidence and information on national and international standards, test methods, and specifications for fluid-resistant and impermeable gowns and coveralls used in healthcare. This document focuses on selecting protective clothing primarily on the basis of their barrier properties. It does not address all aspects of garments related to their design, integrity, durability, comfort, and functionality.

State of the Sector | Healthcare and Social Assistance Identification of Research Opportunities for the Next Decade of NORA
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-139 (June 2009)

Healthcare and Social Assistance - Advancing priorities through research and partnerships
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-149 (June 2009)

NIOSH Program Portfolio: Health Care and Social Assistance
The mission of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) research program for the HCSA sector is to eliminate occupational diseases, injuries, and fatalities among individuals working in this sector through a focused program of research and prevention.

A Compendium of NIOSH Health Care Worker Research 2001
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-108 (December 2002)
Overview of research projects related to the healthcare industry.

Biological Hazards and Controls

Respirator Use in Health Care Workplaces: a Toolkit for Respirator Program Administrators
The California Department of Public Health developed this toolkit with funding from NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.

Preventing Transmission of Pandemic Influenza and Other Viral Respiratory Diseases: Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Personnel Update 2010
January 27, 2011
This report for NIOSH from the Institute of Medicine assesses the progress of PPE research and identifies future directions for PPE for healthcare personnel.

Immunization of Health-Care Personnel Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections: Influenza Vaccination of Healthcare Personnel
Describes an initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve vaccination rates for influenza among health care workers.

Interim Guidance on Planning for the Use of Surgical Masks and Respirators in Health Care Settings during an Influenza Pandemic (October 2006)
A science-based framework to facilitate planning for surgical mask and respirator use in health care settings during an influenza pandemic.

Pandemic Influenza
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA's safety and health topic page on pandemic influenza provides links to OSHA publications and other resources for healthcare workers on preparing for an influenza pandemic.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

Recommendations for Protecting Laboratory, Field, and Clinical Workers from West Nile Virus Exposure
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006-115 (December 2005)
This publication provides information for protecting workers from West Nile Virus.

Immunization of Health-Care Personnel [PDF - 705 KB]
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: November 25, 2011 / 60(RR07);1-45
Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

Hospital eTool: MRSA
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA's Hospital eTool features a new module on MRSA. This electronic aid provides information to help stop the spread of MRSA among employees and others working in healthcare and other industries.

Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Health Care Settings [PDF - 1.8 MB]
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: December 30, 2005 / 54/RR-17

Chemical Hazards and Controls

NIOSH List of Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings Allows Healthcare Workers to Minimize Exposure and Reduce Health Risks
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-189 (August 2011)

Best Practices for the Safe Use of Glutaraldehyde in Health Care (2006)[PDF-262 KB]
This handbook helps employers and employees understand and control exposures to glutaraldehyde, a toxic chemical used to disinfect and clean heat-sensitive medical, surgical, and dental equipment.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Glutaraldehyde: Occupational Hazards in Hospitals
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-115 (May 2001)
Describes the adverse effects of exposure to glutaraldehyde, occupational exposures, and control.
En Español

Mercury in Health Care (August 2005) [PDF - 33 KB]
World Health Organization

Control of Smoke From Laser/Electric Surgical Procedures (Hazard Control)
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-128 (March 1998)
Describes how to control airborne contaminants generated by these surgical devices.

Waste Anesthetic Gases - Occupational Hazards in Hospitals
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-151 (September 2007)
This brochure increases awareness about the adverse health effects of waste anesthetic gases, describes how workers are exposed, recommends work practices to reduce these exposures, and identifies methods to minimize leakage of anesthetic gases into the work environment.
En Español

Home Healthcare

NIOSH Hazard Review: Occupational Hazards in Home Healthcare
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2010-125 (January 2010)
Describes the risks and offers preventative strategies for home healthcare employers and workers.

NIOSH has created a series of 6 Fast Facts cards that provide brief explanations of individual hazards to home healthcare workers and preventative steps. These were designed to be used by employers for training and to be kept by the workers for quick reference. They are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Polish.

Physical Hazards and Controls

Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders

Workplace Solutions: Preventing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders in Sonography
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006-148
Provides case summaries and recommendations for preventing MSDs in health care workers giving sonograms.

Safe Lifting and Movement of Nursing Home Residents
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006-117 (February 2006)
This guide is intended for nursing home owners, administrators, nurse managers, safety and health professionals, and workers who are interested in establishing a safe resident lifting program.

Ergonomics: Guidelines for Nursing Homes
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Beyond Getting Started: A Resource Guide for Implementing a Safe Patient Handling Program in the Acute Care Setting (2006) [PDF - 1.2 MB]
This booklet was developed by the Alliance Implementation Team of the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Health Care (AOHP) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Safety

NIOSH Continues Research to Improve Safety for Ambulance Service Workers and EMS Responders
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-190 (August 2011)
 

Public Health Notification from FDA, CDC, EPA, and OSHA: Avoiding Hazards with Using Cleaners and Disinfectants on Electronic Medical Equipment (October 31, 2007)
This notification describes problems such as equipment fire and malfunction and healthcare worker burns resulting from inappropriate use of cleaning and disinfecting liquids on electronic medical equipment.

FDA and NIOSH Public Health Notification: Oxygen Regulator Fires Resulting from Incorrect Use of CGA 870 Seals (June 19, 2006)
NIOSH and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have published a joint Public Health Notification to alert health care professionals and the public about a potential occupational hazard associated with the improper use of oxygen regulator gaskets.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Evaluation of a comprehensive slip, trip and fall prevention programme for hospital employees
Ergonomics: 2008 / 51:1906-1925
This article presents a 10-year longitudinal study describing occupational slip, trip, and fall injury events in hospitals and evaluating the effectiveness of a comprehensive program for reducing them.

Violence

NIOSH Fast Facts: Home Healthcare Workers: How to Prevent Violence on the Job
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-118 (February 2012)

Violence: Occupational Hazards in Hospitals
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-101 (April 2002)
This brochure is to increase worker and employer awareness of the risk factors for violence in hospitals and to provide strategies for reducing exposure to these factors.
En Español

Workplace Violence and Prevention in New Jersey Hospital Emergency Departments (2007) [PDF - 1.6 MB]
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
This report describes the findings of a NIOSH-funded study on workplace violence among hospital emergency department workers.

Related NIOSH Topics

Work Organization

Exposure to Stress: Occupational Hazards in Hospitals
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2008-136 (July 2008)
Occupational stress has been a long-standing concern of the healthcare industry. This brochure identifies the sources and adverse health effects of occupational stress and recommends work practices to reduce occupational stress in the healthcare industry.

Reproductive Health

The Effects of Workplace Hazards on Female Reproductive Health
DHHS (NIOSH) Publications No. 99-104 (February 1999)
Many factors can affect a woman's reproductive health and her ability to produce healthy children. This document examines reproductive hazards for female workers.
En Español

Dentistry

Recommended Infection Control Practices for Dentistry

Dentistry
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Related NIOSH Topic

Emergency Preparedness and Response

Emergency Preparedness and Response
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Hospitals and Community Emergency Response – What You Need to Know (1997)

CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response

Surveillance and Statistics

National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN)
Healthcare Personnel Safety Component

Workplace Solutions: Medical Surveillance for Health Care Workers Exposed to Hazardous Drugs
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-117 (April 2007)
Health care workers who handle, prepare, or administer hazardous drugs may face risks to their own health such as skin rashes, cancer, and reproductive disorders. NIOSH recommends that employers establish a medical surveillance program to protect workers who handle hazardous drugs in the workplace.

Worker Health eChartbook
The eChartbook is a descriptive epidemiologic reference on occupational morbidity and mortality in the United States. A web-based resource for agencies, organizations, employers, researchers, workers, and others who need to know about occupational injuries and illnesses, the eChartbook includes more than 8,000 figures and tables describing the magnitude, distribution, and trends of the Nation's occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Work-Related Lung Disease (WoRLD) Surveillance System
Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector

Related Sites

 
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  • Page last reviewed: January 6, 2012
  • Page last updated: December 12, 2014
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