In this report, I will give details about the way we can promote Safe and Healthy Work practices, how we can prevent infections in the workplace and the importance of housekeeping in the place of work. I will give information about the ways we can improve our wellbeing and how stress and lifestyle affect our health.
1. Promoting Safe and Healthy Work Practices
All employers are required to manage safety and health at work by the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (SHWWA 2005).
Safety and health codes are general, but how much action is needed will depend on the size and the nature of the business. Safety and health management in the workplace involves protecting people and developing a safety philosophy among employers and employees.
The SHWWA 2005 describes the duties of employers and employees.
1.1. Duties of the employer
In order to prevent workplace injuries and ill health the employer is required to:
Provide and maintain a safe place to work. This includes welfare facilities, fire detection, lighting, heating, ventilation, room/space etc.
Prevent risk from the use of any articles or substances and from exposure to physical agents, noise, and vibration.
Provides safe system of work (codes of conduct, guidance, procedures)
Provides safe equipment that is well maintained. Makes sure that the equipment is properly used and is checked regularly by a competent person.
Provides protective clothing or equipment to employees free of charge if risk can’t be removed or adequately controlled by any other means.
Prepare a Safety Statement.
Provides a competent person as the organization’s safety officer. This person must possess the adequate training and must have sufficient experience and knowledge.
Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety.
Report serious accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences to the Health and Safety Authority (HAS)
Provide emergency procedures.
1.2. Duties of employees
All employees have a duty to care for their own health and safety and of other people in the workplace. Other duties are:
Not to be involved in inappropriate conduct that will cause danger to themselves or others.
Not to be intoxicated in the workplace (alcohol, drugs)
To submit to appropriate testing if asked to do so by the employer.
To report any defects in the workplace as soon as possible.
To attend trainings provided by the employer.
To use the equipment as trained.
To use the PPE at work
To co-operate with the employer with regards to safety, health, and welfare at work.
1.3. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA)
The Authority was established in 1989 under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989 and reports to the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The Authority has a number of major roles. We are:
The national statutory body with responsibility for ensuring that approximately 1.8 million workers (employed and self-employed) and those affected by work activity are protected from work-related injury and ill-health. We do this by enforcing occupational health and safety law, promoting accident prevention, and providing information and advice across all sectors, including retail, healthcare, manufacturing, fishing, entertainment, mining, construction, agriculture and food services.
The lead National Competent Authority for a number of chemicals regulations including REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation and Seveso II Directive. Our responsibility in this area is to protect human health (general public, consumers and workers) and the environment, to enhance competitiveness and innovation and ensure free movement of chemicals in the EU market.
A key agency involved in market surveillance and ensuring the safety of products used in workplaces and consumer applications. We have a remit to protect 4.5 million citizens from unsafe products and articles and to enable the international movement and trade of goods manufactured in Ireland.
Our Strategic Priorities are to:
Health: Increase the focus on work-related health risks.
Safety: Maintain and develop the advances achieved in the management of work-related safety risks.
Chemicals: Focus on the risks to human safety and health arising from chemicals used at work and by the general public.
Accreditation: Provide an impartial, internationally recognized accreditation service, responsive to market demands through the Irish National Accreditation Board.
How we work: Continue to change and transform the way we work.1
The HSA monitors compliance with legislation in the workplace and can take enforcement actions (including immediate closure and shut-down of the business), bring prosecutions and impose severe penalties if workers are deemed to be unsafe.
The role of the HSA is to promote and encourage the prevention of accidents and injury to health, encourage activities which promote safety, health and welfare, to provide and publish information and advice relevant to safety and health at work.
1.4. Safety and Health in the workplace
Safety in the healthcare system is vital not only for us, the healthcare assistants but for the residents in our care and their families as well. According to studies the top injuries in the healthcare sector typically involve falls, slips, trips and in the first place is patient handling and moving.
For the promotion of a safe workplace the employer:
· should provide training for the employees. All employees must attend the training.
In healthcare the most important training are Patient Handling and Moving, Infection Prevention and Control and Fire Safety. Staff training is maybe the most significant way employers can achieve fewer injuries for their employees.
· Provide information and induction training.
· Ensure all equipment is up to date and in good condition.
As an employee are many ways to maintain your workplace safe. For example:
Keep the equipment safely stored when is not in use.
Keep the workplace is clean and tidy.
Report any defects and damaged equipment immediately.
Clean any spillages immediately, using the correct procedures and PPE if necessary.
Follow the policies for safe waste-disposal, particularly with sharps.
2. The importance of infection prevention in the workplace
An infection is an invasion of harmful micro-organism into the body resulting in illness and disease. Infections can be spread in the following ways: airborne, when the micro-organisms are spread through the air from sneezing, coughing, etc. Indirect contact into the bloodstream from dirty instruments or needles. Direct contact with an infected patient.
When the micro-organisms enter the body they will multiply and grow and we will notice signs of infections. In order for infections to occur a series of events, must happen. These events are known as a chain of infection.
To break the chain of infection we must take into considerations the followings: hand washing, waste management, cough etiquette and appropriate use of PPE.
2.1. Hand washing
Hand washing is the simplest procedure to control infections. Hands should be washed before/ after any personal care tasks, before/ after opening a catheter bag, before/ after handling food, before/ after using PPE, before/after contact with body fluids, after touching animals, before/after cleaning equipment, before/after getting in contact with a client, after using the toilet, after smoking, after work is finished. Prior to hand washing cuts must be covered with waterproof plaster and the jeweler must be taken off.
Alcohol hand rub is a useful and practical alternative to washing with soap within the healthcare setting. According to Brooker& Nicol (2005), hot air dryers are not recommended for hand drying due to the fact they can blow dirt and dust into the environment.
2.2. Coughing and sneezing etiquette
Refers to avoid sneezing or coughing into your hands. If you have a cold/flu always carry disposable tissues with you if you feel that you will cough or sneeze, turn your head away from others and cover your mouth with a clean tissue. Always wash and dry your hands after coughing or sneezing.
2.3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Is essential for infection prevention and control. Protective clothing must be worn to prevent contact with bodily fluids or contact with broken skin. In healthcare gloves and aprons are the most used form of PPE. Gloves reduce the risk of getting germs but are not 100% safe. For this reason, is encouraged to wash and dry our hands before and after the use of PPE. If there is a risk of airborne infections, masks should be worn.
2.4. Waste disposal
The correct disposal of waste in a healthcare environment is important to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all staff, patients and visitors. There are two types of waste in healthcare, the Non Risk Waste which includes non-infections waste like domestic waste, confidential material, medical equipment (oxygen face mask, empty feed bags) and Risk Waste. The Risk Waste includes items that are infected, chemicals, medicines and sharps.
The disposal of the Risk Waste is done following these steps:
· For the bloodstained or contaminated items, we will use a yellow bag.
· Contaminated items by bodily fluids or blood will be disposed of in a yellow rigid box with a yellow lid.
· The medicines not used or out of date and the chemicals will be disposed of in a yellow rigid box with a purple lid.
· The needles, syringes will be disposed of in a yellow sharps bin with a blue or red lid. The bin should only ever be ¾ full, always leave ¼ empty for safety concerns. Never dispose of sharps in containers used for storage of other waste.
Infection control in the workplace is important to avoid cross-contamination or healthcare-associated infections (HCAI) like norovirus, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus(MRSA). According to the Health Services Executive, about 10% all HCAI are MRSA infections. Illness like this can be avoided by using the steps above and by sterilizing equipment, or cleaning the equipment (hoist) before and after use. Maintaining a clean work environment helps eliminate the risk of contamination. If you are suffering from certain illness (cold, flu, vomiting bug) is advise not to work with food.
Infection control is the responsibility of everyone.
3. The importance of housekeeping in the workplace
To maintain a safe and healthy workplace, housekeeping must be a priority. Poor housekeeping can present hidden hazards that may cause incidents, including tripping on loose objects, being hit by falling objects, and slipping on wet or dirty surfaces.
All healthcare assistants should clean as they go during their shifts by removing waste, dispose of it in the correct manner and clean and store the equipment after use. All equipment should be visually checked before use and if any defects are noticed, they should be reported as soon as possible. All spills should be cleaned immediately to avoid the risk of slipping. Slips, trips and falls were the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The fire exits should be always maintained clean and clutter free.
For a good housekeeping system, we should adopt the 5S system. The system includes five steps:
1. Sort: avoid having unnecessary items.
2. Store: all items should be store when not in use
3. Shine: take action. Do not wait for someone else to do it.
4. Standardize: set a routine of cleaning tasks to ensure standards are maintained
5. Sustain: ensure provision is made to follow up, take action where standards are breached. 4
4. The role of diet and exercise in the promoting of Good Health
For a good health is advised to have a balanced diet and to exercise at least 30 minutes every day. A balanced diet helps ensure that you get all the nutrients you need. Is recommended to eat a wide variety of food to make sure your body will get what it needs. The elements of a balanced diet are carbohydrates, fat, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water. Healthy eating reduces the risk of getting sick and increases the body ability to fight illnesses. It may reduce the risk of having high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The risk of developing a heart condition or diabetes is decreased.
Exercise combined with a healthy balanced diet will help our body to work properly. The doctors will recommend exercising at least 30 minutes each day. Regular exercises help with cardiovascular functions, controlling the weight, social interaction and reduces the stress levels. We recover faster from illness when we exercise, the skin looks better, the endorphins are released into the body and our overall health is improved.
In the workplace, we function better when we have a healthy lifestyle. We are more energetic, we concentrate better, we are happier.
5. Risk to Health caused by stress, lifestyle and illness
According to Clark (1986) in Basford et al. (1995), health means there is a balance between the person and his/her environment and focuses upon the physical, social and psychological aspects of a person being in a state of equilibrium.
To be a good member of the healthcare team, you must take care of your own health first. Sometimes our job is tiring and stressful and our best protection against the effects of fatigue and stress is to keep ourselves physically and mentally fit as much as we can. The risk factors for personal health are stress, lifestyle, diet and illness.
In the workplace is very hard to find the right time to take a break, mostly because we don’t have a set routine as we work with people with different needs. For some staff is difficult to slow down and relax and as result, they eat fast, which is not good for digestion or for taste. Is important to use the break wisely, eat our meals slowly and try to enjoy them.
A good lifestyle involves a good balance between work and home. Sometimes we engage in one activity at the expense of another. When we spend too much time at work we ignore our family and when we spend too much time enjoying our private life we can put in danger the residents in our care. Finding the balance is key, by working hours that suits us and our family, this will provide us with the balance required to enjoy both work and social life and provide the best care for our clients. Without that balance, we put both ourselves and clients at risk.
Stress occurs when an individual perceives an imbalance between the demands placed on them on the one hand, and their ability to cope on the other. It often occurs in situations characterized by low levels of control and support. (Professor Tom Cox, I-WHO, University of Nottingham, UK). Most of the time stress is caused or made worse by work. It may be caused by one’s inability to cope with the pressure in the workplace. Not everyone will react in the same in stressful conditions. Some people can get very anxious and other people enjoy being under pressure. To avoid work-related stress for employees, the employer needs to outline the role and responsibilities of the job, increase understanding, outline procedures and raise awareness.
Illness can have many causes like lifestyle, viruses and the aging process. Another factor that we have to take in consideration is one’s genetic disposition. We can avoid getting sick by adopting a healthy diet, exercise, have a balanced lifestyle and exercise. Studies show the more common illnesses causing absence from work are headaches, sinusitis, dental issues, back pain, cold and flu.
6. Conclusion and Reflection
At the end of this report, I feel I have a better understanding of safety and health in the workplace. I feel going forward I will have the knowledge I need to protect myself as well as other staff members and residents against any dangers that can take place. I feel this knowledge will greatly reduce the risk of harm being caused due to hazards and risks as I am aware of how to use control measures. I have more knowledge of the employees and employee’s duties. Knowing my role and responsibilities in Health and Safety make it easier for me to promote a safe a healthy working environment. I know how to protect my own, my residents and the other members of staff’s health from infections. An example of this is good hand washing technique both in the workplace and outside of work. Finally, I know the importance of good housekeeping and reporting any hazards I notice as well as any broken equipment.
1 http://www.hsa.ie/eng/About_Us accessed on 03.01.2018
2 www.google.com accessed on 04.01.2018
3 www.google.com accessed on 04.01.2018
4 Class notes