Introduction: Healthcare facilities like other work places are characterized by a high level of exposure to occupational hazards which could significantly endanger the safety and health of workers, and impact on the rate of occupational injury and infections among health care providers. Traditionally, healthcare workers are viewed as professionals who are capable of maintaining their health without assistance. Hospitals and health institutions were also considered to be safer than other working environment.

Objective: The objective of the study was to assess the occupational hazards and safety practices among health care providers at the University of Port Harcourt teaching hospital.

Methods: A cross-sectional study employed the simple random sampling method to select 246 respondents. A structured questionnaire was designed and administered to study participants. Data collected from respondents were entered into MS EXCEL for organization, and analyzed using STATA version 14.

Results: The study found high knowledge and awareness of occupational hazards and safety among the health care providers. There was positive attitude towards occupational safety practices. However, there was presence of occupational injuries and illnesses among healthcare workers.

Conclusion: The development and implementation of an effective occupational health policy to guide health care providers is imperative.

Keywords: Occupational, Hazards, Safety, Practices, Attitude

1.1. Background
Traditionally, professionals working in a hospital are seen as people who are capable of keeping their health without help and hospitals and other health facilities were also considered to be safer than other workplaces. As a result few resources are allocated to the occupational health of these health care providers. However, the hospital environment presents healthcare employees with various occupational hazards, including exposure to infectious agents, needle stick and sharp injuries, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), exposure to carcinogenic agents, latex allergies, violence and stress (Lugah et al., 2010).

The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007 endorsed the Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health, to be implemented from 2008-2017 to provide political framework for development of infrastructure, policies, technologies and partnerships for achieving basic level of occupational safety throughout the world (WHO, 2007). The Global Plan of Action addresses all aspects of employees’ health, including prevention of workplace hazards, protection and promotion of safety practices at work, employment conditions and improving the response of health systems to employees’ health. It, thus, links occupational health to public health (Bekele, Gebremariam, Kaso, & Ahmed, 2015).

Thus, working in a safe environment is the basic right of all employees and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the Workers Right to know laws were important landmarks in the history of occupational safety and health. They embedded in the law the principle that employers had a responsibility to protect their employees (Rosner& Markowitz, 2016). It is thus instructive to assess the knowledge, attitude and perceptions of health care workers with respect to occupational hazards and the extent to which personal protective equipment were used in the discharge of their duties.

1.2. Problem statement
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at any point in time more than 1.4 million people globally have infections they acquired in healthcare centres. Health care providers were at risk of being exposed to numerous infectious diseases, including, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis B, and influenza. In other countries, health care workers were three times more likely than the general public to contract TB. In general, airborne infections posed a significant danger to hospital employees especially in low- and middle-income countries (Lavoie et al, 2010).

Shockingly, 90% of blood borne infections occured in low-income countries, stressing the vulnerability of hospital staff in these areas. Professionally, Health Care Workers see to patients through different preventive and curative services. However, while they focused on providing care, they are exposed to hazards that could affect their health and wellbeing. This is the norm in developing countries where health care services are besought with minimum protective precautions against being exposed to various occupational hazards (Aluko et al., 2016).

In addition, poor attitude toward occupational safety and health, and knowledge on occupational hazards among health care providers substantially contributed to their vulnerabilities (Aluko et al., 2016).

In Nigeria, very little is said about occupational health hazards confronting healthcare practitioners and other health care providers. The University of Port Harcourt teaching hospital is one of the busiest hospitals in the country, and serves as one of the three referral health centres in the Region and beyond. There was the need to assess the occupational dangers posed to hospital employees and other workers in this facility, and utilization of personal protective equipment by healthcare workers in the health facility.

1.3 Research Questions
1. What is the level of awareness about occupational hazards among workers at the University of Port Harcourt teaching hospital

2. What is the attitude of workers towards the use of personal protective equipment as an important barrier in minimizing occupational hazards?

3. What is the perception of workers about the health implications of occupational hazards in the hospital?

4. Are there administrative policies and training on use of personal protective equipment?

1.4 Objectives
1.4.1. General Objective
To assess occupational hazards and safety practices among health care providers at University of Port Harcourt teaching hospital in Rivers state, Nigeria.

1.4.2. Specific Objectives
1. To assess the awareness, knowledge, attitude and perception of workers about occupational hazards at the University of Port Harcourt teaching hospital.

2. To determine the prevalence of occupational related diseases among healthcare workers.

3. To assess the use of personal protective equipment among workers at the hospital.

1.5. Justification
Assessing the knowledge, attitude and perceptions of health care providers regarding occupational dangers has the ability to spread awareness in occupational health hazards and to regulate and set standards to promote safety and health in the various hospitals. (Aminde et al., 2015)

Adequate knowledge of occupational hazards coupled with a positive attitude and perceptions among health care providers is highly crucial for preventing the occurrence of various kinds of occupational diseases and injuries. However there is limited data on health care providers knowledge, attitude and beliefs of occupational dangers in developing countries where the burden of occupational diseases and injuries continue to increase (Agbana et al., 2016).

The study is expected to help provide data on the knowledge, attitude and perceptions of health care providers about occupational hazards associated with the healthcare environment and ways to reduce the occurrence of these hazards by using equipment to protect employees at the hospital.

The findings of this study would help stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health, Nigeria Health Service and other healthcare related organization fashion out the requisite policies help to improve the safety and health of HCWs in the country.

Knowledge: This is what the Respondents knowledge about occupational hazards and safety as pertains to their work environment.

Attitude: This is Respondent’s behavior and actions towards occupational hazards and safety

Perception: This is respondent’s view about occupational hazards and safety. Personal Protective Equipment: Items worn by health care workers to protect themselves during work

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 46 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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