Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers

Twenty-one healthcare professional practice organizations collaborated with NIOSH to develop and implement the anonymous, multi-module, internet-based survey.

Members from these organizations, representing healthcare occupations that routinely use or come in contact with selected hazardous chemicals and drugs, were asked to complete the survey. The survey included a screening module, seven hazard modules (see below) and a core module. The core module collected demographic, occupation and employer characteristics of respondents and issues relevant to all of the occupations studied.

Respondents were eligible to complete the survey if they indicated in the screening module that they used/came in contact with any of the chemical hazards in the seven days prior to the survey. The survey was programmed to present, based on screening questions, the most relevant hazard module first, then the core module, followed by a second hazard module, if indicated.

The seven hazard modules addressed the following chemical hazards:

  • Aerosolized medications (three submodules: antibiotics amikacin, colistin and tobramycin; pentamidine; ribavirin)
  • Anesthetic gases
  • Antineoplastic drugs, compounding
  • Antineoplastic drugs, administration
  • Chemical sterilants
  • High-level disinfectants
  • Surgical smoke (two submodules: laser surgery; electrosurgery)

The hazard modules gathered information on:

  • How often and how long respondents worked with the chemical(s) during the past week
  • Training on safe handling precautions
  • Availability of safe handling procedures
  • Use of engineering and administrative controls
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and barriers to PPE use, if applicable
  • Spills and availability of spill kits, if applicable
  • Medical surveillance programs and exposure monitoring, if applicable.

The findings are expected to help NIOSH, partners, employers and healthcare workers to better understand current health and safety practices relative to working with hazardous chemicals, identify gaps in what is known about those practices, and guide research to address those gaps.