Healthcare workers are critical to the well-being of our society, providing care and support to those in need. Because they work near people who are ill, healthcare workers often experience chronic work-related health conditions.
What are the most common job-related illnesses?
1. Needlestick injuries
Needlestick (sharps) injuries are among the most common in healthcare. Used needles, razors for shaving and glucometers can expose healthcare workers to serious bloodborne pathogens, such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Left untreated, an infection could lead to severe illness or death.
2. Airborne pathogens
Healthcare workers are at the frontlines when it comes to infectious diseases. From the common cold to more serious conditions such as influenza, tuberculosis, SARS and pneumonia, they are at higher risk due to constant exposure.
3. Chemical exposure
Cleaning solutions, disinfectant sprays and other irritants can lead to respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD. Furthermore, skin disorders are also common, including contact dermatitis displayed by red, itchy and inflamed skin.
4. Mental illness
The mental health of healthcare workers is becoming an increasing concern. High stress levels, long hours, insufficient staffing, and physical labor can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.
Healthcare facilities must protect their employees from work-related illnesses. They need to provide the following:
- Education on infection control practices
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Safety needles and proper disposal bins
In addition, they need to foster a work environment that prioritizes mental health. They can do this by ensuring their employees don’t work too many consecutive days and offering programs focusing on self-care and mental health.
Healthcare employees are in an industry considered high-risk for work-related illnesses. If you believe your health condition is from your work environment, you may be able to receive compensation to help with your treatment.