OSH risks of health and social care workers working in clients' homes in Finland
Authors: Johanna Pulkkinen, Maria Lindholm
Abstract: In Finland, the number and frequency of accidents at work in the health and social services industry have increased between 2010 and 2020. The need for services provided at home has increased and will increase in the future. Results of a previous survey study conducted for occupational safety and health (OSH) specialists showed that the safety protections of home care workers were lower compared to those employed in hospitals and institutions. The client's home as a working environment is challenging and the employer's opportunities to ensure the safety and health of working conditions are limited. Health and social care workers meet multiple OSH challenges while working in an individual's home. Health care workers in general are exposed to many dangers, examples of which include biological hazards such as needle puncture infections or other infectious diseases, chemical hazards including medicines and disinfectants used in cancer treatments, physical hazards such as ionizing radiation, ergonomic risks, for example, when dealing with a patient, and psychosocial risks such as violence and shift work.This article is about the OSH risks of health and social care workers while working at clients' homes in Finland. Three municipalities, two private companies and one non-profit organization participated in the study. The data for this paper was collected through online survey (n = 160) and interviews (n = 55). Altogether, the interviews included 89 participants. The participants were, for example, nurses, personal assistants, supervisors, head of home care, or from the safety organization. The focus is on questions related to what the participants and respondents saw as OSH risks and challenges in their work performed in the client's home. The process and methods will be described in detail in the article.The results of the preliminary data analysis indicate that work of the health and social care workers has many risks. According to survey, the main risks are related to, for example home as a working environment, physical ergonomics, mental, psychosocial and ethical burden, organizing and scheduling the working day, alarming aid, lack of peer support and cooperation with others. This paper contributes to prior research by providing new information about OSH risks of health and social care workers while working at clients' home. It is important to recognize the risks because it is the foundation of safety work. Only risks that are known can be managed.
Keywords: safety, risk, health care, social care
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