Many people associate nursing homes as a quiet place where the elderly live out the rest of their lives. However, as a nursing home worker, you know that this picture is only an ideal.
In reality, those who care for elderly patients not only face many hazards in the workplace, but also have one of the highest rates of injury and illness across all industries, including construction, reveals OSHA. The most common dangers you may experience include the following:
Biological and chemical hazards
Working in health care means a high exposure to biological and chemical hazards, such as:
- Blood and other bodily fluids
- Cleaning materials
Needle sticks are also a common source of contracting a disease.
Musculoskeletal disorders affect aides, orderlies and attendants in nursing homes more than those in other fields due to the heavy lifting and repetitive motions the work requires, often without sufficient help from other staff or equipment. Examples of these disorders include tendonitis, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, but they can affect any joint or muscle. Without proper treatment, they can lead to long-term damage and difficulty in performing everyday tasks.
Not all seniors are kind and friendly, though not from any fault of their own. Mental illness, disease and medications can all lead to violent tendencies in patients. Nursing home workers deal with physical violence such as slapping, scratching and biting, as well as verbal abuse and sexual harassment.
Slips, trips and falls
Floors do not have to be wet or obstructed for you to slip, trip or fall. Handling patients and moving equipment are enough cause for such accidents. These accidents can happen outside as well. Even if you are just walking to or from a building in winter, you can slip, trip or fall, and your workplace would be liable for any injury.