Home health care workers – be they personal aides or nurses – put themselves in jeopardy whenever they enter a patient’s house. Therefore, it is vitally important for these professionals to fully understand all potential risks as well as familiarizing themselves with their organizations’ policies, procedures and best practices before entering any individual home.
Common dangers include back injuries from lifting patients, hazards in homes that could lead to falls and allergens such as mold, which is also common with flooding.
Unsanitary living conditions in a home can create a health hazard, particularly for home healthcare workers such as personal care aides, nursing assistants and home health nurses who often visit clients’ houses for visits. Poor conditions in their household could expose their clients to bloodborne pathogens like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV and pose potential injury or illness risks.
Home health aides may also be exposed to harmful chemicals, cockroaches, rodents and other vermin in unsafe dwellings that put their safety at risk. Such conditions increase the chance of falling which is one of the primary types of accidents that result in injuries, deaths and hospitalizations in residential environments.
Researchers conducted a survey among home health aides on the safety hazards they encounter in their clients’ households, with results supporting earlier, qualitative findings and showing that home health patients are often exposed to unsafe conditions. Researchers conducted field observations during questionnaire development, frequently noting unhygienic practices, clutter, poor ventilation, overheating and peeling paint in each client home they visited – evidence suggesting policies be developed to create safe living environments for home health aides in those homes they serviced.
Hospitals and other health care facilities generate considerable waste. While approximately 85% is classified as nonhazardous medical waste, 15% may contain infectious, toxic, or radioactive material which poses risks to both healthcare workers and members of the public.
Pathological waste includes swabs and cultures with blood, tissues or body fluid as well as equipment and supplies contaminated by such material as blood smears or cultures; biohazardous waste includes materials capable of spreading diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, bacterial meningitis and infectious diarrhea.
Chemical waste includes disinfectants, solvents, batteries and mercury from thermometers; while radioactive waste comprises unneeded radiotherapy liquid and lab research waste. All forms of medical waste pose a grave danger to health and safety – this is especially worrying in low-income countries where medical waste can often be left lying around on the ground or water; unprotected waste pickers could easily pick it up and spread infections while when dumped into landfills it can leak into groundwater and pose health threats to local residents.
Home health care workers face many threats every day in their work as home health aides, from dangerous animals and unsanitary environments to patients suffering from mental illness or drug dependency. But perhaps one of the most hazardous aspects of their job involves dealing with blood and body fluids.
Sharps injuries occur when needles, scalpels or other medical devices come into contact with blood or body fluids and are not properly disposed of or stored after contact, leading to possible contamination by bloodborne pathogens like Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus or HIV that could result in infections with severe consequences.
Avoiding incidents related to sharps by properly storing and disposing of them, using a buddy system for patients who are heavy or difficult to transfer, taking advantage of assistive equipment like transfer systems when working alone and quickly receiving vaccination or immunoglobulin shots after accidental blood or body fluid exposures; additionally it is also recommended to get immunization against Hepatitis B and C immunoglobulin shots as soon as possible after any accidental exposure; taking such preventive steps will help lower back injuries as well.
Animal Bite and Scratches
Domestic or wild animal bites pose biological hazards that are hard to predict; even minor wounds from domestic animal bites or scratches can present major biological threats. Bite wounds may become infected with oral bacteria from an animal’s oral flora or saliva or human skin flora; alternatively they could become exposed to invading bacteria such as Tetanus or cat scratch disease (which could potentially spread rabies) through contact. Bites or scratches that break the skin are more likely to become infected than those that do not break skin – breaking your skin increases your odds of becoming infected significantly!
If bitten or scratched by a household pet in good health, and the wound is clean and minor–for example a household cat–then use soap and water for five minutes to thoroughly wash out any bacteria from the wound before applying antiseptic ointment to treat potential signs of infection: swelling, pain, bad odor or fluid draining from it. If these symptoms arise promptly seek medical advice immediately.
Fire is an ever-present danger in most homes, particularly those without working smoke alarms. According to recent statistics, more house fire deaths occur during autumn and winter due to increased candle usage, fireplace usage and space heater use.
General guidance suggests that individuals should leave their home immediately when fire threatens, even if it means burning their belongings and themselves. To access an exit and escape quickly (unless it has been blocked by smoke or fire ), use the nearest exit unless blocked by smoke (see photo for illustration) If young children need to be led out quickly then their primary caregiver must lead them out first; pets should also be attended to first before any human is allowed back inside.
Avoid keeping combustible items within two metres of heating appliances, and have chimneys and flues professionally inspected annually. Have an emergency evacuation plan and regularly practice it with your family. Install and test smoke alarms on every floor and in each bedroom of your home, as well as store fire extinguishers with an ABC rating on every level of your home.