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Healthcare and Social Assistance (HCSA)


Workers are at risk for illness and injuries because of long hours, changing shifts, physically demanding tasks, violence, and exposures to infectious diseases and hazardous chemicals. The HCSA sector comprises workplaces providing health care and social assistance for individuals. The industries in this sector are arranged on a continuum starting with those workplaces providing medical care exclusively, continuing with those providing health care and social assistance, and finally finishing with those providing only social assistance. The services provided by workplaces in this sector are delivered by trained professionals. Many of the industries in the sector are defined based on the educational degree held by the practitioners. Emerging issues identified include: stress from chronic understaffing and long hours due to shortages in nursing and other health care professions; an aging workforce of nurses and other HCSA workers, in the face of increasing demand; potential exposures to unknown hazardous agents contaminating emergency responders; emerging infectious diseases such as SARS and avian influenza; exposure to a variety of antibiotic-resistant pathogens; risk from a dramatic increase in workplace violence perpetrated by clients, their families, and co-workers; and hazardous chemical use and the exposure to potentially hazardous new technologies which are continuously being introduced into healthcare settings.

A. Identify an emerging issue or an existing issue and develop technology to measure or predict exposure of HCSA workers present in workplaces providing health care and social assistance for individuals.?

B. Determine the effectiveness and/or develop improved approaches for training used to protect HCSA workers.

C. Develop information tools to facilitate hazard recognition.

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