Home health workers provide the valuable service of allowing people who are not in the best of health to remain in their homes. These individuals may focus solely on health-related concerns, or they may offer various services, including helping with daily activities, basic housekeeping and running errands.
While this is a career that has many benefits, including being able to provide truly personal care for patients, it comes with risks. Understanding the dangers of this type of work benefits everyone involved in home health care and those considering this career.
Slips, trips and falls
One of the most common hazards in any work environment, including the homes of patients, is the risk of slips, trips and falls. These incidents can occur due to wet floors, cluttered spaces or even unsecured rugs. Non-slip shoes can help.
Exposure to biohazards
Exposure to biohazards presents another significant risk for home health workers. This includes contact with blood, bodily fluids and other potentially infectious materials. Infection control measures and personal protective equipment are critical in these situations.
Home health workers may also face the danger of animal attacks, particularly from pets. While pets can be a source of comfort for patients, they can also be unpredictable and may become aggressive, especially in the presence of unfamiliar people. Discussing pets during intake may provide insight into what type of protection workers need at homes that house pets.
Musculoskeletal injuries often result from repetitive movements, lifting or handling patients. Proper body mechanics, using lift assist devices, and self-care may all help to minimize the risk of these injuries.
While most patient interactions are safe and respectful, there are instances where workers may face aggressive or violent behavior. Risk factors for this include patients who have a history of violence and certain types of dementia-related conditions.
Home health companies need to have protocols and guidelines to keep workers safe. When a worker suffers an injury while doing their job duties, workers’ compensation should go into effect to cover the medical bills and provide specific other benefits based on the injured worker’s circumstances. If you’re injured while working in a home healthcare situation, seeking legal guidance might be necessary to ensure you get the benefits you’re due.