Thursday, September 1, 2011

Occupational Health Hazards in Hospitals, What Health Care Workers Should Know?

Biological hazards refer to organisms or organic substances derived from organisms that are harmful to human health. These include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. In general, there are three major routes of entry for these micro-organisms into our body, i.e. through the respiratory system, transmission through contact with body fluids of the infected or contact with contaminated objects. The harmful effects posed to human health by these biological hazards are mainly of three types; infections, allergy and poisoning (Greenlanda et al., 2007).
Healthcare workers (HCWs) include personnel who are in contact with patients, body fluids, specimens and having high risk of acquiring and transmitting infections. Healthcare workers include physicians, nurses, laboratory personnel, technicians, pharmacists, workers and students in educational hospitals (de Castro et al., 2009).
Needle-stick injuries and cuts are the common occupational accidents exposing HCWs to blood and body fluids. These preventable injuries expose workers to over 20 different bloodborne pathogens and result in an estimated 1000 infections per year, the most common being hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) (Daha et al., 2009).
The risk of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and active tuberculosis (TB) as an occupational disease is well established and HCWs are still recognized as a high-risk group for LTBI. Therefore, the screening of individuals employed in the healthcare sector for active TB and LTBI is fundamental to infection control programmes in hospitals (Schablon et al., 2010).

Microbiological and biomedical laboratories associated infections have become a medical problem over the past two decades, so the biosafety in microbiological and biomedical laboratories has become the cornerstone of practice for biosafety. The principles of laboratory biosafety include the proper microbiological practices, safety equipment and facilities that help protection from exposure to infectious microorganisms that are handled and stored in the laboratory (Cocker et al., 2007).
Effective interventions to interrupt transmission of infection in hospitals should be based on knowledge of the relevant transmission mechanisms involved. Unfortunately there is a lack of evidence-based knowledge of such transmission mechanisms, with much fact established by retrospective observation (Nchez-Paya et al., 2009).
In construction projects, experience shows it is important for the infection control teams to work together with the project team in the management of each individual unit. Infection control teams should be consulted for their guidelines for any building project in a hospital such as proper ward design, improvement of ventilation, partial isolation of the infected cases and places for the ultraviolet lamps and filters (Walkera et al., 2007).
Wards can be designed to facilitate standard precautions. Washbasins are needed for good hand hygiene. Dispensers for alcohol hand rubs must be placed where they are easy to reach. In high risk wards one per bed is desirable. Space between beds is important. Beds should be at least far enough apart that a nurse cannot touch both beds at the same time (Vonberg and Gastmeier, 2007).
If the contact with biological hazards cannot be prevented, isolation may be done for the uncontrollable cases and the employees must use personal protective equipment and adhere strictly to the practice of personal hygiene. Droplet infection is a major hazard in chest hospital. The personal protective equipments against droplet infections include masks, gloves, protective clothing, eye shields, face shields and shoe covers (Farrington, 2007).
Need to read more : Read upcoming book
Occupational Health Hazards in Hospitals, What Health Care Workers Should Know?

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