11 million people worked for the health industry in 2019 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Around 8 million of them have constant exposure to hazardous drugs, which causes them to develop different illnesses and health conditions. The consequences of hazardous drug exposure can be serious, and those who work in the industry mustn’t delay a doctor’s visit when they start showing symptoms of a condition. When such an event happens, the ill workers have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
The effects of drug exposure
Hazardous drugs can harm health care workers. The severity of the possible illnesses depends on several factors, such as the drug’s toxicity, potency, and the level of exposure to the drug. Some of the most common health effects of hazardous drug exposure are:
- Skin rashes
- Hair loss
- Adverse reproductive outcomes
- Liver and kidney damage
- Hearing impairment
Drugs used to treat cancer, antineoplastic agents, cause most of the severe conditions. However, exposure to other drugs like antibacterials, estrogens and oxytocics can also cause irreversible effects on the worker’s health.
Protection against hazardous drugs
Health care employers know about these risks. Because of this, they must take safety measures to protect their workers from the dangers of hazardous drugs exposure. Employers can reduce the probability of an illness by:
- Labeling all drugs so that workers know how to handle them
- Eliminating automated counting machines for hazardous drugs, as these can contaminate the work area with the toxic chemicals
- Using liquid formulations
- Giving their employees protective equipment
- Using effective engineering controls
Employers can reduce the risks by setting these measures. However, they are still responsible for compensating their employers if they get sick because of this toxic exposure to chemicals.
Health comes first
If you are a health care worker and handle hazardous drugs, you must seek medical assistance whenever you start suspecting you are ill. If you have a condition, your employer must compensate you for your medical expenses and lost wages. Health care workers deserve quality medical treatment to heal, and they have the right to fight for it.