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Emerging Occupational Health Issues In Healthcare Industry

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Emerging Occupational Health Issues In Healthcare Industry

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Discuss about the Emerging Occupational Health Issues in Healthcare industry.

The Australian health care sector has an essential responsibility to play in achieving the goals of the Australia 2020 strategy of contributing to the well-being and overall health of the society and the workforce as a whole as pointed out by Cowman (2016). In the same context, social and healthcare sector is an as well an essential employer who is significantly growing not only in the context of demographic changes and shortages in the emerging labor market demands due to staff shortages. Rohwer and Young  (2017) also denotes that even though the increasing population will put a demand on care workers, social and healthcare sector often contribute significantly to the reduction in the number of staff due to emerging healthcare issues affecting the working environments within the industry. This report analyzes and presents an overview of the current healthcare sector emerging occupational issues affecting social and health care professionals. It evaluates in details different literature on emerging health issues in different industries with a major focus on the health and social care systems. The report is important as it gives a clear understanding on the how these issues affect their health and safety at work and the influence the issues have the quality of their health care provision services.
Review of the relevant literature
Many studies have been carried out aimed at getting an overview of the mains health issues and risks affecting the social and healthcare sector. According to Smith and Wei (2010), social and healthcare sector are ranked the fourth highest rate of work-related health concerns in the last one year behind other industries such as the manufacturing and construction industry. The same study denotes that the highest proportions of the occupational health issues were experienced in manufacturing, construction, and whole retail trade that occupied 38%, 13%, and 7% respectively, while social and healthcare sector showed 5%. In his study, Agard (2015) points out that woman within the social and health work sectors are more likely to have accidents more than ones or have suffered from an occupational disease as compared to women working in other industries. The same study also denotes that exposure to chemical and biological risks are the most prevalent in the health industry where nurses and doctors frequently handle infectious materials they use in disinfecting instruments in the working process.
The social and healthcare sector is also the fifth after construction, food and accommodation, agriculture, and wholesale and retail industries when it comes to posture-related issues and risks. On the other hand, Dixon et al. (2014) also denote that harassment, violence and other work-related stress are as well recognized as major challenges to health and occupational safety. All of these aspects of psychological issues are of great importance in health and social work as well as public administration and education. The same study asserts that the level of sickness absence due to occupational health risks is highest in the health care sector.
Manifestation in the health risks in healthcare
The activities undertaken by health care professionals in the associated health care institutions such are nursing homes and hospitals together with the activities undertaken in the patient homes exposes them to occupational health risks and issues (Vanhanen, 2016). Safe Working Australia (2017) points out the health care professionals and related social workers often deal with a wide range of environments and activities posing threats to their health and putting them at the risk of work-related accident as well as occupational diseases. Most of the settings where healthcare workers perform their duties and the tasks multiplicity such a delivery of frontline care for both physical and mental impairment, handling sick patients providing cleaning services such us on wounds presents varieties of health hazards. Healthcare professionals are hence exposed to many different occupational health issues such as concomitant risks. These include psychosocial issues such as shift work and violence, ergonomic risks especially when handling patients, physical risks such as ionizing radiation in times of X-rays and cancer treatments. Dixon et al. (2016) also denotes that other health hazards come from biological risks such as infections from communicable diseases and the needle-stick injuries and chemical risks from drugs the professionals use for treatment and disinfectants.
In combination to the above health risks and well-known health hazards, Sheoin (2015) denotes there are many new trends and developments that the health and social care workers in Australia are facing resulting into many new challenges and occupational health issues that need to be addressed. These include epidemiological, technological, social, cultural, and demographic trends within the Australian countries that are influencing the existing patterns of healthcare industry. These factors are noted to greatly impact the ultimate well-being, safety, and working conditions of the healthcare professionals (Kazerouni, 2015). They include increase in the shortage of health workers and professionals, emergence of new patterns in healthcare for tackling multiple chronic infections, and imbalance in the working patterns and skill levels. It also leads to the increase in new technological innovations that calls for new skills mix and aging healthcare labor with insufficient new recruits to replace the retirees.
Legislative requirements in relation to health risks
In the Australian health sector, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation, 2011 and the Safe Work Australia (SWA) authorities in each territory or state help in enforcing the occupation health safety and the WHS regulations and acts as pointed out by Walters et al. (2016). Every industry or organization is hence required to meet every requirement of the WHS set out in the regulation s and acts in every territory or state.  The acts give a primary overview of how an organization can make its workplace healthy and safe for the workforce. The acts also give a clear outline of the duties and legal responsibilities for every business owner or employer as pointed out by Begley and Pollard (2016). The regulations uphold the standards that should be met by every industry for every risk and hazard such as machinery, noise, and manual handling among others. They as well set out the relevant licenses that are needed for every activity, records that should be kept and the reports that every organization needs to make. 
The regulators also known as the regulation agencies are responsible for administering safety and health laws such as inspecting workplaces, handling penalties and notices where necessary, providing help and advice, etc. Safe Working Australia (2017) denotes that when courts are making decisions on whether an industry has met the safety and health laws, their decisions will be made in accordance with the approved codes of practice for your territory or state. The approved codes of practice and support advice from the relevant regulators in Australia are outline in accordance with the regions an organization is found (Gundel, 2017). For instance, Australian Capital Territory occupational health issues are founded in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the ACT Codes of Practice while the WorkSafe ACT is the regulator (Australian Government, 2017). The Workplace Health and Safety, 2011 involves the mitigation and assessment of the health risks and occupational issues that may directly or indirectly impact the welfare, health, and safety of the employees. It hence ensures that every organization is obligated to providing safe working premises, assessing risks and implementing appropriate measures for the premises, ensuring safety in the handling and use of goods and substances, and providing and maintaining safe material and machinery. (Dixon et al. (2014) also recommend providing and facilitating good working environments as well as having workers compensation and insurance for all employees.
Standard industry practice to minimization of the health hazards and its effectiveness
For every industry, there is a standard practice that needs to be adopted in minimizing any possible health hazards. Therefore, the industries in Australia are expected to adopt the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to govern their workplace operations. However, Sheoin (2015) denotes that with the ever changing enforcement policies, the administrative and current interpretation on the relevant decisions as per the guidelines of the accepted review commissions. Under the Work Health and Safety guidelines, OSHA is responsible for developing and setting mandatory occupational health and safety requirements applicable to Australian Industries.
 In the responsibility of minimizing health hazards, various guidelines are adopted according to Sullivan and Green (2016). For instance determining the acceptable extent of employee exposure to health risks and hazards and deciding actions to be taken in controlling the hazards hence protecting the workers and training employees to anticipate, evaluate, or identify and recommend effective control measures for both physical and environmental hazards that can affect their well-being. Developing and issuing standards aimed at protecting workers from hazards related to biological hazards as well as harmful physical and chemical agents (Broom, 2016). And providing technical support and assistance to the regional and national agency offices are vital (Sheoin, 2016). The same study also denotes assessment setting of workplace enforcement procedures and technical interpretations towards the standards and regulations. It is an aspect that helps in the nalysis, identification, and measuring of the industrial workplace hazards that can result in impaired health, sicknesses, or any other significant discomfort in the workplace.
The social and healthcare sector is an essential employer who is significantly growing not only in the context of the Australian demographic changes and shortages in the emerging labor market demands due to staff shortages. However, social and healthcare sector often contribute significantly to the reduction in the number of staff due to emerging healthcare issues affecting the working environments within the industry. Every organization hence needs to adopt the relevant health and safety guidelines to ensure its employees are protected from possible harms.
Agard, B. (2015). Integration of occupational health and safety in the facility layout planning, part II: design of the kitchen of a hospital. International Journal Of Production Research, 53(11), 3228-3242. doi:10.1080/00207543.2014.970711
Australian Government (2017): WHS/OH&S acts, regulations and codes of practice, Retrieved from https://www.business.gov.au/info/run/workplace-health-and-safety/whs-oh-and-s-acts-regulations-and-codes-of-practice
Begley, A., & Pollard, C. M. (2016). Workforce capacity to address obesity: a Western Australian cross-sectional study identifies the gap between health priority and human resources needed. BMC Public Health, 16(1), 1-11. doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3544-5
Broom, D. (2016). Safeguarding Workers: A Study of Health and Safety Representatives in the Queensland Coalmining Industry, 1990-2013. Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations, 71(3), 418-441.
Cowman, M. C. (2016). The impact of demographic and situational factors on training transfer in a health care setting. Irish Journal Of Management, 35(2), 129-142. doi:10.1515/ijm-2016-0009
Dixon, J., Woodman, D., Strazdins, L., Banwell, C., Broom, D., & Burgess, J. (2014). Flexible employment, flexible eating and health risks. Critical Public Health, 24(4), 461-475. doi:10.1080/09581596.2013.852162
Gundel, H. (2017). Improving Access to Mental Health Care by Delivering Psychotherapeutic Care in the Workplace: A Cross-Sectional Exploratory Trial. Plos ONE, 12(1), 1-16. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169559
Kazerouni, A. (2015). A proposed occupational health and safety risk estimation tool for manufacturing systems. International Journal Of Production Research, 53(15), 4459-4475. doi:10.1080/00207543.2014.942005
Rohwer, A., & Young, T. (2017). Evaluating evidence-based health care teaching and learning in the undergraduate human nutrition; occupational therapy; physiotherapy; and speech, language and hearing therapy programs at a sub-Saharan African academic institution. Plos ONE, 12(2), 1-18. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172199
Safe Working Australia, (2017). Retrieved from https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/model-whs-laws/model-cop/pages/model-cop
Safety Culture: The Key to Process Safety Management Success. (cover story). (2016). Safety Compliance Letter, (2588), 1-15.
Sheoin, T. t. (2015). Controlling Chemical Hazards: Global Governance, National Regulation?. Social Justice, 41(1/2), 101-124.
Smith, D. R., & Wei, N. (2010). Emerging workplace issues for Chinese health care workers in the new millennium: HIV/AIDS. Work, 37(3), 297-300. doi:10.3233/WOR-2010-1081
Sullivan, M., & Green, D. (2016). Misled about lead: an assessment of online public health education material from Australia’s lead mining and smelting towns. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, 151-12. doi:10.1186/s12940-015-0085-9
Vanhanen, H. (2016). Observed changes in cardiovascular risk factors among high-risk middle-aged men who received lifestyle counselling: a 5-year follow-up. Scandinavian Journal Of Primary Health Care, 34(4), 336-342. doi:10.1080/02813432.2016.1248649
Walters, D., Johnstone, R., Quinlan, M., & Wadsworth, E. (2016). Safeguarding Workers: A Study of Health and Safety Representatives in the Queensland Coalmining Industry, 1990-2013. Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations, 71(3), 418-441.

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