Researchers working on behalf of the University of Chicago (UoC) recently analyzed health care workers’ clothing. What they discovered was a surprisingly high rate of viruses linked to respiratory disorders. The UoC findings came from swabs taken from the personal protective equipment (PPE) of dozens of medical workers with direct patient contact. The PPE tested included facemasks, gloves, scrubs, and gowns. Results revealed that respiratory viruses were present in varying percentages on all PPE. Gloves contained the highest amount of respiratory viruses lingering on the apparel of workers.
Concerns About Residual Viruses on PPE
Viruses are not a shocking find on PPE, especially in a medical facility. However, the sheer amount of viruses does give pause. A healthy individual who encounters viruses is not as likely to be affected by a respiratory illness as a compromised one. Yet, even health care workers can experience dips in immunity levels throughout the year. Working overtime and having a high-stress occupation can lower resistance to developing respiratory problems.
For this reason, researchers are asking health care facilities and employers to promote stronger safety measures against the spread of lingering viruses. That way, health care workers will be less likely to call in sick, or even come to work sick and pass along new diseases to colleagues and patients. Absenteeism routinely costs companies millions of dollars each year in lost productivity. Chronic health problems can also lead to a rise in Workers’ Compensation claims.
Reducing Viruses on PPE
Prevention is the best way to lessen the presence of respiratory viruses and other viruses, germs, and bacteria on PPE and other surfaces. Common prevention tactics used by workers include washing their hands after patient contact, making use of alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers throughout the facility, wearing PPE appropriately, discarding and cleaning used PPE when appropriate, and remaining generally vigilant about personal hygiene. Personal hygiene includes refraining from touching the face, nose, and mouth, then touching other surfaces or people, as droplets of contaminated saliva and mucus can carry live viruses.
Another way to prevent viral outbreaks among health care employees is to ensure all employees receive proper immunizations, such as the annual flu vaccine. Sick employees should also stay home so they can rest and recover from illnesses. Otherwise, they may infect coworkers and patients. The number of days they miss will likely be much shorter if they take care of their wellness needs rather than push through illnesses.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Workers Suffering from Occupational Illnesses
If you are suffering from an occupational illness, contact a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We will review your case and fight for the benefits you deserve. Call us at 302-888-1221 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including Dover, Newark, and Middletown.