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Workers in the health care and social assistance sector can experience poor physical and psychosocial health outcomes. This document provides an overview of the literature on occupational harms and risk factors in the sector.
While occupational harms were explored in the sector as a whole, the risk factors focused on three particular settings: hospital, community and residential.
Commonly reported injuries in the sector were soft tissue and laceration/puncture/sting. Musculoskeletal disorders were also a common work-related health issue for health care workers. In addition to the physical harms, psychosocial harms such as stress, anxiety, and depression experienced by workers in the sector are covered by this review.
These harms are attributed to several key occupational risk factors identified in this literature review, comprising: patient handling/physical demand, violence and physical abuse, bullying and harassment, exposure to dangerous substances and infectious agents, traumatic stress, shift work, and work-related psychosocial risk factors such as high job demand, low job control, lack of social support, and effort-reward imbalance.
During the course of the literature review the COVID-19 pandemic began. We address the risks posed by pandemics in section 5.3 of the report, this is in response to the high level of interest in the health and safety of workers in the health care and social assistance sector.