Health, Safety Practices of Healthcare Workers Are Focus of New NIOSH Webpage

Published May 17, 2017

​NIOSH recently published a new workplace health and safety topic page that collects information related to a survey of the health and safety practices of healthcare workers that the agency conducted in 2011. The federally-sponsored survey is the largest to address safety and health practices relative to the use of hazardous chemicals typically found in healthcare settings. Information on the use of best practices to minimize exposure to chemical hazards in healthcare was limited at the time, so the agency sought to better understand the circumstances in which healthcare workers may be exposed to hazardous chemicals, gauge how well best practices were being used to minimize exposure, and evaluate barriers to using PPE and other exposure controls. Aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases, antineoplastic drugs, and chemical sterilants are among the classes of chemicals targeted in the survey.

In general, the survey showed that employers and employees alike did not universally follow best practices to minimize exposures. NIOSH researchers published multiple papers related to the survey in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH), including studies on safe handling practices for compounding antineoplastic drugs and precautionary practices among providers of anesthesia care.

Related: In December 2016, the back page of The Synergist, “By the Numbers,” focused on anesthesia care providers’ adherence to precautionary practices for administering anesthetic gases.