Maryland health care workers may be aware that their workplace is hazardous in a number of ways, some of which are better known than others. For example, many medical experts know that pathogens, or infectious microbial life forms, can live on in blood even after it has left the body. Medical workers usually understand that these pathogens can exist on many surfaces and in many substances inside a health care workplace, The response to clean these areas usually revolves around disinfection and sanitization. However, this level of antisepticism contains its own risks.
Cleaners that use alcohol, phenolic compounds and quaternary ammonium chlorides are all commonly used as hospital disinfectants. Unfortunately, these all contain the potential to irritate the skin or cause other unhealthy side effects.
Workers should know the dangers of all potentially poisonous chemicals in a hospital. For example, aldehydes and other strong chemicals are used to sterilize equipment. Dangerous acetic acid and sodium hydroxide are also often found in medical work environments. There may even be mercury and other toxic minerals contained within equipment. To prevent accidents with these chemicals, OSHA requires medical facilities to have written plans that identify procedures to prevent employee exposure with hazardous materials.
A health care worker’s health may be at serious risk any time they come into contact with pathogens or hazardous substances. Contracting a serious illness or having a dangerous physical reaction to cleaning chemicals can both be considered workplace accidents for a health care professional. An attorney may be helpful if an injured employee wishes to file for workers’ compensation.
Source: OH&S Online, “Health Care Hazmats: There’s More On Site Than Just Bloodborne Pathogens,” Karen Hamel, Dec. 1, 2015
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