As we all know, nurses, medical assistants, and therapists are just a few of the professionals needed to run a nursing home. While their focus is generally on making their patients feel as comfortable as possible, their jobs do not come without associated risks. In fact, in 2010, nursing homes and personal care facilities accounted for “one of the highest rates of injury and illness,” according to OSHA.
Nursing home employees face a wide variety of health and safety hazards because of the nature of their work. Some of the most common hazards are back and other ergonomic injuries resulting from tasks such as lifting a patient. Employees are also at risk of coming into contact with infectious diseases. Oxford Journals shares that viruses such as the flu and other respiratory infections are common among residents and employees alike, as they can spread “via large respiratory droplets, direct or indirect contact, or airborne droplet nuclei.”
Other items and circumstances that nursing home employees often come into contact with that could be a hazard to their health and/or safety, as identified by Business & Legal Resources and OSHA, include:
- Exposure to chemicals like formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, and glutaradehyde
- Drug exposures
- Containers of chemicals and/or drugs that are improperly labeled
- Workplace violence when dealing with a patient that could be mentally unstable
Avoiding hazards in a nursing home is significantly dependent upon making sure that all staff members are properly trained. Beyond making sure that employees have all the mandatory licenses and certifications, they should also be trained on proper techniques and best practices for their line of work as well as how to ensure they are following general health and safety guidelines. For example, the risk of coming into contact with certain illnesses can be reduced by making sure employees are washing their hands properly.
Back injuries can be prevented by following the OSHA recommendation of “minimizing manual lifting of patients/residents in call cases and eliminate lifting when possible.” Unnecessary exposure to chemicals and drugs can be avoided by making sure employees are trained to handle them and that all containers are labeled accurately.
Of course, the chance of an accident always exists, even with highly trained employees, which is why nursing home operators must make sure that they have the right insurance policies in place, such as general liability and professional liability. Contact Lamb Financial Group at 1.866.481.5262 to learn more about our risk management and insurance programs.