Development of an Integrated Risk Assessment and Risk Management Tool for Health Care in BC, Phase 1 – assessment of chemical exposure hazards encountered by health care workers in BC

There are more than 80,000 health care providers working in BC. They work in complex and demanding environments where they may be exposed to numerous potential health hazards, including those that are chemical (e.g. drugs or cleaning agents), biological (e.g. bacteria or viruses) and physical (e.g. noise or radiation) in nature. Dr. George Astrakianakis focuses on understanding the many factors that determine the potential for exposure to health hazards among health care workers, and how to best mitigate their associated risks. In the initial phase of his research, he is identifying the specific chemical exposures commonly encountered in the healthcare workplace, assessing the risk to health for healthcare providers, and defining appropriate exposure control measures. In subsequent phases, he will assess biological and physical hazards, and implement and evaluate control strategies. Much of Astrakianakis’ data will be drawn from surveillance information collected by the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare, which supports BC’s health care industry in part by monitoring information on occupations, exposure incidents and injuries among the Province’s health care professionals This information will form the basis for creating a job exposure matrix (JEM), which will be used to map exposure levels to occupations and eventually to provide risk estimates. The ultimate goal of this project is to design and implement appropriate exposure control strategies — such as technology, policy and training — in health care settings and to evaluate their effectiveness in mitigating risk to health care providers.