The occupational hazards of nursing home work

Jul 03 2017

All jobs come with their struggles and hardships, but working in either a nursing home or other long-term care facility carries unique risks. In fact, nursing home workers report more work-related injuries and illnesses than almost any other industry. From safety hazards to difficult working conditions, there are parts of these jobs that are simply hard. Below are just a few of the difficulties these professionals face.

1. Patient to worker ratio

Ideally, a nursing home worker would only take care of four or five residents at a time. That rarely happens. With an unbalanced ration of workers to residents, it can quickly become difficult to provide a high level of care for each patient. While agency workers are very helpful when short-handed, they often do not have the knowledge of each individual patient that allows each shift to run like a well-oiled machine.

This is especially dangerous in situations where workers need to move patients. While it can be tempting to move a patient without assistance from a co-worker, this can put both the worker and the patient in harm’s way.

2. Illness

Illness can quickly pass from patients to personal support workers. These illnesses can be airborne or even passed through bloodborne pathogens or other potentially infectious material.

If an effective exposure control plan is not in place, workers at are a much higher risk of illness due to these hazards. It is of utmost importance that employers take every precaution and that employees follow every rule to avoid illness. These precautions include personal protective equipment, safety procedures and accurate record keeping.

3. Ineffective safety programs

Most patient care injuries come from a lack of proper implementation or knowledge of rules and safety procedures to keep everyone healthy and safe. An effective health and safety plan is absolutely essential to running a nursing home smoothly. It should include training for all workers, regular analyses of the workplace environment, prevention and control of occupational hazards, and program reviews.

For nurses, personal support workers, and dietary and maintenance staff, there are many occupational hazards that come with working in a nursing home. Many nursing homes have more patients per worker than they should, illnesses are easily passed around, and ineffective health and safety programs are big contributors to the high illness and injury rates in the nursing home injury as a whole.

When the rules and procedures are well known and followed, many of these hazards can be avoided. While it may seem easier to skimp on the procedures that often seem tedious or unnecessary, that very decision can cause an illness, injury or unsafe environment for both workers and patients. Taking an easy route is never worth compromising safety and risking injury, especially in a nursing home.

Learn more by visiting our page on EMT/nursing home claims.