1648a Health hazards in veterinary care

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Veterinary health care workers are exposed to a highly diverse set of hazards similar to human health care workers and include exposures to biological, chemical, enviro-mechanical, psychosocial, and physical agents. This session will provide a review of veterinary health care hazards. Biological hazards include exposures to infectious and zoonotic diseases, animal allergens, and biologic pharmaceuticals. Several biologic agent exposures such as tick-borne and Lyme diseases are of concern and transmission routes for many biological agents are not completely understood. Many personnel suffer from animal allergen exposure and assessments estimates as well as disease are needed. Chemical hazards similar to those in human health care such as disinfectant agents which are continuously used and have been associated with asthma, rhinitis, and contact dermatitis in healthcare workers, and antineoplastic drug exposure, primarily used to treat cancer in dogs and cats are of particular concern. Exposure estimates, hazard knowledge among veterinary personnel related to these agents, and current prevention practices including use of PPE are limited. Enviro-mechanical hazards include sharps risks, and ergonomic risks to unsafe equipment, heavy lifting of both animals and equipment, and awkward postures. With many more women in veterinary health care, reproductive risks are significant from physically demanding work, standing for prolonged periods of time, long working long hours, and chemical exposure. Physical hazards include animal-related injuries such as bites, scratches, and crushing injuries from large animals. Animal noise is a unique hazard in veterinary health care (particularly to dogs) and can contribute to hearing loss. Psychological hazards from work-related stress dealing with the care of sick and injured animals, euthanasia, and with human grief are prevalent requiring much more exploration. Safety culture, attitudes and beliefs around personal safety and the expectation that certain hazards are to be accepted and tolerated remains and must be examined and mitigated.

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