KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — The Health Ministry has been urged to review existing policies and take a serious view of occupational safety and health issues in hospitals that can affect and pose risks to their personnel.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, said the ministry should identify weaknesses and find solutions to occupational safety and health issues for all workplace injuries and illnesses in public and private hospitals.

“Some members of the occupational safety and health committee do not really understand their role while some workers do not know the safety and health policies of their organisations.

“There are cases where staff do not comply with standard operating procedures (SOPs) including the need to wear appropriate protective equipment, while injuries from needlesticks are still reported among medical personnel,” he said in a statement here today.

Lee said the Bureau of Labour Statistics in the United States had stated that working in hospitals was extremely dangerous with the possibility of its workers being afflicted with needlestick injuries or illnesses compared to those in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

Lee said those working in hospitals were exposed to serious dangers, especially when lifting and pushing patients.

“The injuries and illnesses suffered by hospital staff can be very costly and the hospital has to pay compensation and medical costs if the employee is injured while working, and costs are even higher in case of death.

“In addition, safety issues at the workplace will affect patients as tired, sick or depressed workers have a higher risk of causing errors such as dispensing the wrong medicine to patients,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lee said hospitals would also need to raise awareness about travel accidents among its staff as between 2014 and 2016, there were 554 cases recorded. They involved various categories of health workers serving in hospitals under the Health Ministry.

Nurses with 295 cases recorded the highest number of accidents, followed by healthcare assistants (91), other occupations (52), medical assistants (35), drivers (31) and food preparation assistants (15).

Lee urged all parties to work together to reduce injuries, illnesses and deaths caused by workplace and travel accidents that affect productivity and the working spirit in the organisation. — Bernama