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Selected Category: Bloodborne pathogens

Protecting Workers from Ebola: Eight Knowledge Generation Priorities

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Ebola, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Health care, Personal Protective Equipment

 

On November 3, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academies convened a workshop of distinguished representatives from the public and private sectors.   The participants were asked to suggest priorities for research that will “provide public health officials, healthcare providers, and the general public with the most up-to-date information about transmission, health risks, and measures that should be taken to prevent spread of [Ebola virus disease] in the U.S.” NIOSH was pleased to contribute to this dialogue, specifically by addressing issues critical for protecting heath care workers from work-related infection.

Researchers and practitioners have decades of experience related to the use of sampling, analysis, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other traditional measures for assessing exposures and minimizing the risks of occupational illness and injury in the industrial setting. That knowledge underpins standard industrial hygiene practices in factories, mines, and construction sites. Strategic research is vital for building a comparably robust base of evidence for reducing occupational risks from infectious diseases in the complex health care setting. By stimulating the knowledge needed to better meet the challenges of Ebola today, we also lay a stronger foundation for anticipating tomorrow’s potential threats from other novel infectious diseases in our 21st Century world of international commerce and rapid air travel.

How Well Do You Think You Are Protected?

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Health care

Understanding proper use and disposal of protective gowns for healthcare workers

The prevalence of infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, SARS and avian flu, have raised the concern of hospital personnel over the possibility of acquiring such infections. Healthcare workers (HCWs) in or outside hospitals who have contact with patients, body fluids, or specimens may easily acquire infections from or transmit infections to patients, other personnel, or loved ones. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a critical component in the hierarchy of controls used to protect HCWs from infectious hazards. HCW PPE may include gowns, respirators, face masks, gloves, eye protection, face shields, and head and shoe coverings.Even though protective ensembles are worn to protect hospital workers and patients alike, if not used or disposed of correctly, this equipment may pose a considerable risk for the public health. Although laboratory studies have produced mixed results for the effectiveness of gown use, appropriate gowns are recommended to prevent or reduce HCW exposure to bloodborne pathogens. However, those using the gowns may have limited information on the performance of the gowns they wear every day.

Does your workplace culture help protect you from hepatitis?

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Health care, Women

May 19, 2013, is Hepatitis Testing Day. Health care workers are at risk of contracting hepatitis B and C in the workplace. Doctors, nurses, and other staff are predominately exposed to these devastating diseases through needle sticks and other sharps injuries or when fluids from patients splash onto their eyes, nose, or mouth. Hepatitis B and C are life-changing infections, but they can be avoided in many cases. Improved processes and safer equipment are essential. The procedures and equipment used are a reflection of an organization’s safety culture.

A strong safety culture demonstrates a high level of commitment from both managers and employees to a healthy work environment.

What does your workplace do to support a safe work environment? What practices seem to be most effective? Do you do anything innovative at your organization to influence attitudes and behaviors related to safety?

Women’s Health at Work

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Cancer, Chemicals, Construction, Health care, Personal Protective Equipment, Reproductive Health, Service Sector, Stress, Transportation, Violence, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Women

 

This week is Women’s Health Week. With over 58% of U.S. women in the labor force[i], the workplace must be considered when looking at women’s overall health.   We must keep in mind that susceptibility to hazards can be different for men and women.  Additionally, women face different workplace health challenges than men partly because men and women tend to have different kinds of jobs. Women generally have more work-related cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, and anxiety and stress disorders.  Social, economic, and cultural factors also put women at risk for injury and illness.  While workplace exposures can affect both male and female reproduction, issues related to reproduction and pregnancy are of particular concern to women.  Below you will find summaries, with links to more research, of some hazards faced by women in the workplace as well as links to industry-specific research from NIOSH  that relates to women.   More information is available on the NIOSH topic page Women’s Safety and Health Issues at Work.

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