One of the hazards of providing home healthcare is the daily challenge of driving to and from the client’s home. In Winter, the streets may be snow-packed or icy. In Spring, roads may be flooded. Even under ideal conditions, driving can be challenging.
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has published an overview of hazards in home healthcare at https://www.osha.gov. The article states that home healthcare workers “have little control over their work environment which may contain a number of safety hazards. These hazards include bloodborne pathogens and biological hazards, latex sensitivity, ergonomic hazards from patient lifting, violence, hostile animals and unhygienic and dangerous conditions. In addition, if their daily work schedule requires them to provide care for multiple patients, they face hazards on the road as they drive from home to home.”
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has published six Fact Sheets to assist in reducing home healthcare workers’ risk for injury and illness. Publication Number 2012-122 focuses on preventing or reducing driving related injuries. The Fact Sheet addresses behaviors and conditions which contribute to car accidents. These include distracted driving, aggressive driving, failure to use a seatbelt, driving while tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, poor weather conditions, and poorly maintained vehicles.
What can you do to protect yourself? The OSHA Fact Sheet lists the following things employees should do to prevent driving-related injuries:
- Use seatbelts.
- Stop the vehicle before using a cell phone.
- Avoid distracting activities such as eating, drinking, and adjusting radio and other controls while driving.
- Avoid driving when over-tired.
- Use detailed maps to determine your route before you leave, or use a GPS.
- Have the vehicle checked and serviced regularly.
- Keep the gas tank at least a quarter full.
- Carry an emergency kit containing a flashlight, extra batteries, flares, a blanket, and bottled water.
—By Karen Centowski
To see a video about distracted driving, go to Distracted Driving Presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfknB9CZiA8.