Occupational health and safety for health workers in the context of COVID-19
All health workers require knowledge and skills to protect themselves and others from the occupational risks they encounter, so that they can work safely and effectively. This course consists of five sections in response to these needs: - Introduction - Module 1: Infectious risks to health and safety - Module 2: Physical risks to health and safety - Module 3: Psychosocial risks to health and safety - Module 4: Basic occupational health and safety in health services.
Self-paced
Language: English
COVID-19

Course information

Overview: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, working conditions for health workers may deteriorate. In addition to the risks of infection with COVID-19, health workers continue to experience other occupational health and safety risks of biological, physical or psychosocial nature. Therefore, for the protection of physical and mental health, safety and well-being of health workers, WHO recommends a combination of measures for infection prevention and control, occupational health and safety and psychosocial support.

Health workers participating in pandemic response are exposed to many different occupational risks to health and safety. These include: COVID-19 infection, illness, and transmission to others; fatigue from working longer hours and heavy workload, insufficient sleep or rest, dehydration, and inadequate nutrition; musculoskeletal injury from handling of patients and heavy objects, prolonged work while using personal protective equipment which can cause heat stress, skin and mucosal damage; workplace violence and stigma, and a variety of mental health problems, emotional distress and occupational burn-out.

The target audience for this course is health workers, incident managers, supervisors and administrators who make policies and protocols for their health facilities.

Learning objectives: By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • describe the most common occupational risks to health and safety to which health workers are exposed while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • describe the rights of health workers to decent working conditions;
  • describe how to apply measures for protecting their health and safety and actively propose improvements; and
  • access and use supportive services for protection of health and safety of health workers.

Course duration: Approximately 1 hour.

Certificates: A Record of Achievement certificate will be available to participants who score at least 80% of the total points available across all of the quizzes.

Course contents

  • Introduction:

    This introductory module gives an overview of occupational health and safety in the context of COVID-19.
  • Module 1: Infectious risks to health and safety:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: explain how health workers can be exposed to infectious hazards; describe how respiratory infections and bloodborne pathogens are transmitted to health workers; and describe the steps that health workers can take to protect themselves from respiratory infections: standard precautions and control measures to prevent different infections.
  • Module 2: Physical risks to health and safety:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: list the major risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in the health sector; describe high risk activities when handling patients; and describe the major types of occupational hazards that health workers face and how to prevent them.
  • Module 3: Psychosocial risks to health and safety:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: list the major sources of psychosocial risks for health workers; describe the signs of fatigue and how to prevent it; describe the risk factors, signs and preventive actions for workplace violence; and describe how health workers and managers can protect and support mental health.
  • Module 4: Basic occupational health and safety in health services:

    By the end of this module, you should be able to: describe the responsibilities of employers and managers in occupational health safety and describe actions that can be taken by health workers to promote occupational health and safety.

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Certificate Requirements

  • Gain a record of achievement by earning at least 80% of the maximum number of points from all graded assignments.

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