Background of Study and Definition of Terms
In many hospitals in the world, there seem to be no form of organized occupational health program for health workers and many of the workers may not be so conscious of the magnitude of their professional hazards and risk to their health and survival (Georgia, 2010). Occupational health has been defined as all activities aimed at maintaining the highest level of health and safety for people who are engaged in any type of work (Asuzu et al., 2004). This definition was further elaborated on at the first session of the joint International Labour Organization (ILO) World Health organization (WHO) expert committee on occupational health and safety which gave the aims and objectives of occupational health as promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental, and social in well-being of workers in all occupational; prevention among workers of departure from health caused by their working condition and protection of workers from risk resulting from factors adverse to health as well as planning and maintenance of workers in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological well-being (Asuzu et al., 2004).
Hazard is defined as anything that poses a threat (Asogwa, 2006). Therefore occupational health hazards simply put is any form of work, materials, substance or process arising from employment which poses threat or risk to the health and well-being of a person (Ajayi, 2010). Occupational hazards could be physical, chemical, biological, mechanical and psychosocial (Bolanle et al., 2010). Specific occupational hazards for health workers include infection, back injuries, repetitive strain injuries, shift work, violence, radiation, chemicals and noise (Shimizu, 2007). There are universal safety precautions that serve as time appropriate forestalling tools for occupational health hazards. Ultimately the nurse has specific roles to play in ensuring occupational health safety. Importantly, this study was motivated by the need to examine the specific roles played by the nurses in preventing occupational health hazards.
Statement of Problem
Every year throughout the world, millions of occupational accidents and illnesses occur causing death, permanent disability, waste of time and money. The hospital is not exempted from these work related hazards. According to ILO report in 2001, about 6,000 workers died due to occupational accidents and disease. Out of 270 million accidents, each year, 350,000 are fatal. People generally think of occupational hazards as occurring only in heavy industries. However health care facilities present workers with a myriad of potential health and safety hazards. Analysis by Gun (2009) which compares the rate of acute and chronic conditions for hospital workers had a significantly greater incidence of acute conditional compared with workers in all other occupation, the risk of hospital workers was about 1.5 times greater than for all workers. He also noted that hospital workers have a greater percentage of compensation claims. The situation is the same if not worse in the developing countries. In the light of the above facts the researcher has decided to examine the occupational health hazards associated with nursing care at selected Primary Health Care Center, Ekpoma, Edo State.
Aim and Objectives of the Study
This study aims at examining the occupational health hazards associated with nursing care and its prevention with the following specific objectives:
- To assess the nurse’s level of awareness of occupational health hazards associated with nursing care.
- To access the nurses level of awareness of measures in the prevention of occupational health hazard.
- To access nurses level of implementation of the preventive measures.
Significance of the Study
Occupational hazards of health workers are only beginning to attract attention in this part of the world especially, Edo State, Nigeria. Even in the developed countries such as the United State of America, it was in 1997 that the center for disease control and prevention, National institute for occupational safety and health first published the criteria for effective hospital health program and in 2002, published guidelines for infection control in the hospital (Oha, 2002). In many of the hospital in Nigeria there seem to be no form of organized occupational health program for health workers and many of the health workers may not be conscious of the magnitude of professional health hazards and risk to their health and survival. The policy makers and various hospital managements do not seem to give any meaningful attention to this. The seemingly noticeable evidence of government concerns is seen in the paltry hazard allowance incorporated in the worker’s salary, which is not commensurate with the magnitude of hazards to which workers are exposed with immense consequences on their health. There is then the necessity to educate health workers. It is hoped that the finding of this work will assist and encourage nurses and other health workers to know the common occupational hazards and how to prevent them. Furthermore, it will encourage government and other agencies to inculcate educational health programs for health workers in Edo state and Nigeria in general.
The following research questions have been proposed to guide the study:
- What is the level of nurse’s awareness of occupational health hazards associated with nursing care?
- What is the degree of nurses’ knowledge of the preventive measures of occupational health hazards?
- Do nurses implement the known preventive measures of occupational health hazards?
There is no relationship between nurse’s knowledge of health hazards and the implementation of measures to prevent occupational health hazards.
Scope of the Study
This research work was limited to nurses of all rank at the time of conducting this research. The researcher in this work studied occupational health hazards associated with nursing care in some Primary Health Care Center in Ekpoma. In addition the study attempted to explore nurses’ level of awareness of occupational health hazard, the preventives strategies as well as examining the extent to which nurses implement these preventive strategies.
Operational Definition of Terms
Occupation: A term described by the oxford advance dictionary as relating to a particular job or employment.
Hazards: the oxford advance dictionary defines a hazard as a danger or risk
Nursing care: The assistance of an individual by a nurse to prevent injury, illness or death.
Health: The level of functional and metabolic efficiency of a living organism i.e. a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being of an individual.