Health and safety are paramount to maintaining performance at the workplace. Healthcare workers, including nurses, are exposed to many challenging and hazardous situations at work. They often work with dangerous tools and equipment during procedures. Therefore, creating a culture of health and safety is extremely important for a safe working experience at the workplace.
A safe working environment is a prerequisite for offering patient-centered care. If nurses or any other healthcare professional start to fear their safety at all times, they may fail to concentrate on their work at hand. Hence, a compromised service is a likely consequence. Safe workplaces instill efficiency, involvement, care, accountability, and professionalism in their employees.
Nurses are at a greater risk of getting new infections as they work with sick patients turning to hospitals with strange illnesses. Additionally, they have job-related stress and health issues to face too. Their job entails a considerable amount of walking, lifting objects, and moving from one room to another. All this can cause shoulder, neck, and leg aches in nurses. Nurses often report issues like persistent backache, diabetes, and heart issues. These issues can, over time, impact patient outcomes. So, as much as a safe working environment is important, their personal safety and health are important too.
Ensuring health and safety at the workplace
Ensuring your health and safety is so important that educating nurses about this aspect of their job must be included in their curriculum. Advanced learning courses, whether taught in online classes or on-campus settings, must include simulations preparing nurses for ensuring their safety and that of their patients. BSN and online MSN to DNP programs are becoming very famous among nurses as they can take their careers to the next level. After a DNP degree, you can become a hospital manager or administrator. So, it comes in your power to influence your workplace positively. Here are some tips to help you and your staff stay healthy and safe in a hospital or any other patient care facility.
- Use of personal protective equipment
The use of personal protective equipment has always been important for nurses as they frequently come into contact with poisonous fluids, radiation, infectious patients, etc. But their use has become even more urgent in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether you are dealing with an infected patient or not, you must cover your face and hands. Use nitrile gloves for your hands and a surgical mask for your protection. When treating positive corona patients, fulfill all the protective gear requirements without neglect.
- Never lift the patients alone
You might feel it is easy to lift a frail patient, but it is still not safe. Any undue pressure on your back can cripple you for a few days or lead to chronic pain. Ask the help from your nearby nurses or consult with your manager if you find no immediate help. A small mistake on your part can be costly for your health. Lifting a patient alone can be dangerous for them too. You may fail to handle them, and they may fall in the process. The resultant damage can be irreparable.
- Be careful with sharp objects
Nurses work with sharp objects like syringes and blades all day. They must practice caution when in contact with such items. Nurses must never use bent needles and use proper safety protocols when disposing of needles. They carry a lot of bacteria and lead to infections if not properly disposed of. Needle injuries are shockingly very common in nurses. High stress, high workload situations, unpredictable patients, and being in a hurry can all contribute to causing injuries with far-reaching impacts. When injecting needles, keep your hands behind the needle, wear protective gloves, and do not recap the needles with your hand.
- Safe drug administration
Some drugs have special handling requirements that you must follow when administering medication to your patients. You might be required to wear double gloves or masks to cover your mouth against hazardous fumes. If you are not careful, unsafe handling can put you in a difficult situation. If you are unsure about handling a specific drug, consult your pharmacist to get advice. Your timely intervention can keep you and your coworkers safe. When you administer any hazardous medication, check the medication dosage and care guidelines before moving to the next step. Often safety measures and quantity are mentioned on the label.
- Prevention against infection
Preventing yourself from contracting the disease your patient is suffering from is an important part of your job as a nurse. If they are in the hospital for flu, use a proper face mask to protect yourself from the virus. You cannot afford to be sick and work at the same time. This is not limited to you only. Your family is also at the risk of getting the disease when you carry it home. Take your flu shot early and protect yourself from the contagions present in your work environment.
- Physical injury
Listening to the news or reports about attacks on nurses is too scary. But it is all very common. Patients often come to the hospital with mental illnesses, so not being in control of oneself is common too. These patients may get hyperactive or angry and attack on-duty nurses.
Sometimes patient families also attack nurses in their stress and failure to cope with their situation. You will often find families blaming nurses and doctors if their patient dies during surgery or treatment in the hospital. In reality, we all know that it is very rare that such incidents happen due to the negligence of the medical staff. Besides, there are protocols to address such issues. Though it might not be possible to be always ready for such an event or to identify the triggers, you must have situational awareness. Always stay close to the door and make sure the door is open when attending to a patient prone to violence. Always be prepared for an exit and dart towards the door when the patients try to attack.
Ensuring health and safety is essential to concentrate on your work and give your best. Handle equipment and tools with care, take care of health and wellbeing and be vigilant against any attack from cranky and stressed-out patients and families. Avoid burnout to find interest in your job and never tolerate workplace bullying. You have to ensure your physical and mental safety; compromising on either can be detrimental to the quality of your life.