The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The Joint Commission and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) want to remind health care and hospitals’ employers that handling hazardous drugs without proper safety precautions can pose a serious health risk.
Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers in Hickory and elsewhere in the state know the long term effects of handling toxic material can be life changing. Employers need to be held accountable when proper training and protection is not provided and a North Carolina work illness occurs.
Risks of handling drugs used for hormone regimens, antiviral treatment and chemotherapy have possible severe, adverse and irreversible occupational health effects.
Even low level work-related exposures without proper precautions can cause reproductive and developmental problems, allergic reactions, cancer and more.
“Potent therapy drugs can have great benefit for patients when used in proper regimens, where doses are controlled and risks are minimized. But they can also have serious consequences to the workers who handle, dispense, mix, apply, and dispose of them without proper controls and training,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We are pleased to join with our partners to remind hospital employers that protecting the health of their employees is vitally important.”
It is vital that employers educate their employees on safe drug handling practices through training sessions or interventions. Awareness is the first step in keeping them away from danger.
“Substances that present a potential health hazard to workers must be included in an employer’s hazard communication program, and it should be readily available and accessible to all including temporary workers, contractors, and trainees,” said David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. “We encourage employers to address safe drug handling by committing their management staff to taking a leadership role identifying and remediating hazards, offering employee training, and evaluating workplace injury and illness prevention programs for continuous improvement.”
Employers need to always keep safety as a top priority in any organization. Taking a hands-off approach can lead to serious illnesses that workers may never heal from.
“Protecting employees from the risks associated with handling hazardous drugs is a critical ingredient in creating a culture of safety in a health care organization,” said Paul M. Schyve, M.D., Senior Vice President Healthcare Improvement, The Joint Commission.
In a letter sent to hospital employers from OSHA, NIOSH and The Joint Commission their message was:
-Make management staff committed to taking a leading role in workplace health and safety.
-Have an open dialog with employees to help develop and offer training, identify and fix hazards and continually assess the hospital’s illness and injury program for improvement.
Click here to see a list of hazardous drugs found in a NIOSH document, “NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings 2010”.
If you or someone you love have a workers’ compensation claim, or are injured on the job in North or South Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation today.