Emergency Department

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Biological Agents

Risk of:

  • Infection.
  • Allergic reactions.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to undiagnosed infectious TB.
  • Exposure to infectious body fluids such as blood, saliva and other body fluids.
  • Exposure to contaminated aerosols e.g. showers harbouring Legionella bacteria.

Chemical Agents

Risk of:

  • Health effects such as allergies and dermatitis.
  • Reproductive hazards.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to soap, latex consumables, disinfectants or drugs.
  • Dealing with a chemically contaminated patient.
  • Exposure during drug administration e.g. inhaling over pressurised vials or needlestick injury.

Driving for Work

Risk of:

  • Road collision.
  • Back pain.

Possible causes:

  • High speed driving under emergency conditions.
  • Poor ergonomic set up / inadequate lumbar support.
  • Manual handling material from the vehicle.
  • Sustained posture and duration of journey.

Electricity

Risk of:

  • Fire.
  • Burns.
  • Electric shock.

Possible causes:

  • Faulty equipment.
  • Overloading of sockets.
  • Unsafe work practices.

Ergonomic Hazards

Risk of:

  • Pain in neck, back or arms.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders such as carpel tunnel syndrome.

Possible causes:

  • Poor ergonomic workstation set up.
  • Lack of adjustable equipment.
  • Static awkward or sustained postures.

Equipment

Risk of:

  • Electric shock.
  • Injuries to feet.

Possible causes:

  • Improper use.
  • Lack of training.
  • Improperly grounded or faulty equipment.
  • Falling objects such as medical instruments.

Fire

Risk of:

  • Burns.
  • Smoke inhalation.
  • Death.

Possible causes:

  • Storing material near ignition sources e.g. electrical fuse boards or lights.
  • Faulty electrics.
  • Overloaded sockets.
  • Blocked fire exits.

Ionising Radiation

Risk of:

  • Genetic / cell / tissue damage.
  • Cancer.
  • Reproductive health problems.
  • Death.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to radiation from portable or mobile x-ray machines e.g. assisting trauma patients.
  • Providing emergency care to patients who have received therapeutic amounts of radionuclides.
  • Failure to follow safe systems of work.

Manual / Patient Handling

Risk of:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders.

Possible causes:

  • Lack of or unsuitable mechanical handling aids.
  • Inappropriate lifting techniques.
  • Lifting too heavy weights.
  • Poorly designed work areas e.g. limited space for using lifting equipment.

 Noise

Risk of:

  • Hearing damage / loss.
  • Physiological effects.
  • Work related stress.
  • Increased risk of accidents.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to emergency air transport e.g. helicopters.

Sharps

Risk of:

  • Inoculation injuries.
  • Cuts.
  • Infection.
  • Stress.

Possible causes:

  • Needlestick injuries due to improperly discarded needles, overloaded sharps boxes or poor technique.
  • Sharp medical instruments.
  • Broken bone fragments.
  • Teeth bites.

Shift Work

Risk of:

  • Digestion problems.
  • Heart disease.
  • Sleep problems.

Possible causes:

  • Changing shifts.
  • Working nights.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Risk of:

  • Minor injuries such as cuts to major injuries such as broken bones, concussion and even death.

Possible causes:

  • Poor housekeeping.
  • Uneven surfaces or changes in level.
  • Wet or slippery surfaces.
  • Slipping on debris such as bandages, blood, IV fluids and plastics especially during emergency situations.
  • Cables crossing pathways.
  • Cluttered or obstructed work areas.
  • Several people working in a compact area.
  • Distractions e.g. reading documents whilst walking.

Stress

Risk of:

  • Psychological disorders.
  • Health effects.

Possible causes:

  • Work organisation.
  • Dealing with intense emotional situations.
  • Making life or death decisions.
  • Shift work.
  • Time pressure.
  • Excessive work load or demands.
  • Combative patients.
  • Role ambiguity.
  • Poor management ability.
  • Inadequate resources.
  • High or unrealistic patient expectations.
  • Bullying.

Workplace Transport

Risk of:

  • Being hit or run over by a vehicle.

Possible causes:

  • Reversing vehicles e.g. ambulance.
  • Lack of traffic management.
  • Poor workplace layout.

Violence and Aggression

Risk of:

  • Physical injury.
  • Stress.
  • Psychological disorders.

Possible causes:

  • Crowded or emotional situations.
  • Delivering bad news.
  • Long waiting times.
  • Aggressive, confused or upset patients or family members.

Further Information

For further information on related controls click here.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of hazards and risks.