Health Safety in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of Health Workers, Including Key Considerations for Occupational Health Safety
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease, healthcare workers are at the frontline and as a result, are more exposed to hazardous situations that place them at the risk of infection. The hazards include prolonged working hours, pathogen exposure, fatigue, psychological distress, stigma, occupational burnout as well as psychological and physical violence. In this report, the rights and duties of a frontline medical service provider are highlighted including measures that are essential for protecting occupational health safety.
Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of Healthcare Workers
The rights of a healthcare worker inclusive of the managers and employers within the healthcare facility are:
- Provision of instruction, information as well as training the staff over occupational health and safety;
- Assuming the responsibility for assuring that every required protective and preventive measures are undertaken for minimizing the risks associated with occupational health and safety;
- Using, taking off and disposing off personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Provision of refresher training over infection prevention and control (IPC);
- Familiarizing the staff with technical updates related to COVID-19 along with the provision of tools for testing, assessing and treating patients along with sharing information of IPC with the patients and the public;
- Provision of IPC and PPE supplies including gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, gowns, goggles, cleaning supplies and soap and water. Ensure the supplies in sufficient quantities so that the workers do not incur any additional expense over occupational health and safety requirements;
- Creating a blame-free environment within which the workers report over incidents like exposure to bodily fluids or blood from the respiratory system or any case of violence along with undertaking measures for the immediate follow up inclusive of victims.
- Provision of adequate security measures required for personal safety.
- Advising healthcare workers over self-assessment, reporting of symptoms, and staying back home in case they are sick.
- Consulting with the staff over occupational health and safety aspects of the work along with notifying labor inspectorate of the cases related to occupational disease.
- Formulating appropriate hours of working with regular breaks.
- It does not make a healthcare worker return to work. Where there is a serious threat to health or life unless remedial action carried out.
- Provision of the right to move out from a work situation with a reasonable justification that a serious threat to health or life is imposed.
- Provision access to counseling and mental health resources.
- Provide the right to rehabilitation, compensation, and curative services for the healthcare providers that have been infected with COVID-19.
- Enabling cooperation amongst health workers, their representatives, and management.
Healthcare Workers Should:
- Follow the protocol for assessing and treating patients;
- Following occupational health and safety guidelines, avoiding exposing other people to safety and health risks as well as being a part of the employer-provided occupational health and safety training;
- Maintaining patient confidentiality;
- Treating patients with compassion, dignity, and respect;
- Follow established health reporting standards and procedures in case of confirmed or suspected cases;
- Monitoring yourself the symptoms of illness and self-isolate to remain safe;
- Using, putting on, taking off, and disposing of PPE properly;
- Reinforcing and providing correct public health and IPC information is important. It is inclusive of people who have neither developed symptoms or have any risk;
- Advising the management in case they are experiencing symptoms of mental health challenge or undue stress which requires different supportive interferences;
- Immediately reporting to the supervisor about any situation which has been reasonably justified or serious threat health or life.