The Izmir Medical Chamber and the Izmir Medical Chamber Workers’ Health & Workplace Medicine Commission stated that the coronavirus epidemic has shone a light on pre-existing risk factors that healthcare professionals are exposed to in the workplace.
The Izmir Medical Chamber and the Izmir Medical Chamber Workers’ Health & Workplace Medicine Commission, has made a written statement, released on World Workers’ Health and Safety Day, 28 April. In it, they state that the current coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic confirms that health workers have been exposed to occupational health and safety risk factors for years.
“WE ADVOCATED USE OF PERSONAL PROTECTION”
In explaining the importance of workplace health and safety, they list the following:
* We proclaimed that there are risk factors: There are many risk factors such as chemical risk factors, ergonomic risk factors, psychosocial risk factors, and we wanted to protect against risk factors. The corona epidemic has, in many workplaces, painfully underlined biological risk factors.
* We advocated the use of personal protection: We advised use of Personal Protective Equipment at workplaces for years. We said use hard hats, use N-95 and other masks against dust and chemicals. We said use protective glasses. With the corona epidemic, the importance of personal protection was understood. Everyone started using masks, safety glasses and gloves. It is not only workplaces who now understand this – but the whole of society.
“WE WANTED TO MAKE AN EMERGENCY PLAN”
* We wanted an emergency plan to be made: For years, we advised that workplaces should make emergency plans. We wanted precautionary measures to be taken in anticipation of future incidents. The importance of such measures was understood after the corona epidemic. If the measures laid out in the Pandemic Influenza National Preparation Plan had been acted upon, the response to the pandemic may have been more effective.
* We encouraged prevention of occupational diseases: For many years, we instituted countless programmes with the aim of preventing employee illness due to risk factors in the workplace. We asked that occupational diseases be officially recorded. Since the corona epidemic, we have painfully witnessed that healthcare workers can become ill at work because of biological risk factors. As well as those in the health sector, thousands of employees in other professions are contracting coronavirus in their workplaces.
* We said that there should be no occupational accidents: For years, we instituted numerous programmes with the aim of preventing employee accidents in workplaces. We asked that every accident be officially recorded. Since the corona epidemic, virus contamination in the workplace is considered a workplace accident.
“WE ADVISED VACCINATION AGAINST INFECTIOUS DISEASES”
* We advised chronic disease monitoring: For years, we have conducted health monitoring for employees who require special workplace policy. We have provided convenient access to chronic health checks at workplaces. The importance of such programmes was understood after the corona epidemic. Special measures such as curfews were introduced for chronic patients and employees over 65 years of age.
* We advised hygiene and disinfection: For years, we have tried to implement hygiene measures in the workplace, including dining hall hygiene, toilet-sink hygiene, hand washing, hand disinfectants, hygiene trainings and hygiene inspections. We checked the personnel hygiene documents, followed the porter examinations. The corona epidemic has revealed the importance of workplace hygiene. Disinfectants are now in wide use. Hygiene has become a critically important consideration in our lives.
* We advised vaccination against infectious diseases: For many years we have recommended vaccination against biological risks in workplaces. We were resolute in administering vaccines such as flu, tetanus and hepatitis vaccines in workplaces. Despite anti-vaccination sentiment amongst some, we continued to vaccinate. Since corona, society as a whole has been reminded of the importance of vaccination.
* We advised preventive medicine: For years we said that the first duty of the occupational physician is preventive medicine. We said that patient examination and prescribing of treatment comes after preventive medicine.
We conducted occupational health training against infectious diseases, collated training records, and issued certification where appropriate. We checked the hygiene of drinking and dining halls. The importance of preventive medicine was fully understood after the corona epidemic.