Safety and health risks faced by healthcare workers must be well managed so they in turn can keep their patients safe.

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That’s the message from the global chartered body for safety and health professionals ahead of World Patient Safety Day on Thursday 17 September.

The awareness day is run by the World Health Organization and this year’s theme is ‘safe health workers, safe patients’ – and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is backing the drive.

Healthcare workers face many risks in their work, including that posed by transmission of the Covid-19 virus. Other risks include the threat of violence and stress, which can make them more prone to errors which could harm patients.

Dr Andrew Sharman, President of IOSH, said: “People working in healthcare are responsible for patient safety. But they cannot guarantee patient safety if they aren’t safe and healthy themselves.

“Those who work in healthcare face risk on a daily basis. This has only been enhanced by the Covid-19 pandemic, during which time they have continued to provide a vital service for us despite these risks, which include but are not limited to transmission of the virus, fatigue caused by the long hours worked and psychological and emotional distress.

“But no person should have their safety or health negatively impacted by the work they do, regardless of what they do or where they do it. Everyone has the right to expect they will return home after they have finished their shift without being put at risk of a work-related injury or illness. As with other sectors, good safety and health management is crucial in this.”

Many of IOSH’s members work in healthcare and play a key role in implementing good safety and health management systems. Some of these members are part of its Health and Social Care Group, which brings together professionals in this sector to discuss challenges and seek solutions.

Dr Sharman added: “Ahead of World Patient Safety Day, I’d like to encourage ALL OSH professionals – not just those working in healthcare – to get behind this initiative. Please help us to raise awareness by sharing information across your social media channels. You can get materials like posters for social posts on the campaign webpage.

“As the campaign slogan says, safe healthcare workers mean safe patients. So, let’s get behind this campaign, promote the importance of protecting healthcare workers and make a difference to not just their lives but those of the patients they look after.”