What are the risk faced by operating room staff and the precautions that can be taken?

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”



Lighting: Poor lighting in operating rooms negatively affects the field of vision, and harsh lighting can cause a feeling of fatigue in employees.

Although the matting method is used in the production line to prevent metal hand tools such as surgical saw blades from shining, the degree of light should be such as to minimize reflection.

Ventilation: Lack of proper ventilation systems increases the risk of infection in the operating room.

Noise: The sounds of medical devices in hospitals, the sounds of ventilation systems, and the conversations of staff and patients/patients’ relatives create a noisy environment. The noise level that damages the hearing system is 100-10,000 Mhz and 85 Db.

Due to the surgical power tool design, its minimum speed can damage the hearing system. It is important to use earplugs for the health of the user.

Radiation: Another physical risk factor that threatens the health of healthcare personnel working in operating rooms is the use of radiation-based devices. Some devices used in patient procedures pose a health threat to healthcare personnel.


Surgical Smoke: Surgical smoke, known by various names such as cautery smoke, smoke cloud, aerosol, vapor and air contaminants, is a harmful byproduct of the use of heat-producing devices such as electrosurgical units, lasers, ultrasonic devices and high-heat electrical devices.

Laser: Although laser is non-ionizing radiation, it is not safe due to its intensity and the fact that it causes the release of substances from tissues. The risk of eye injuries is high for personnel working closely, and direct exposure or reflected radiation may cause eye damage, especially the retina, cornea and lens.

Latex Allergy: Due to the increase in the use of gloves, the demand for latex has increased, manufacturers have made changes in the processing process of latex in order to produce more and cheaper products, and the production of poor quality gloves has increased. Latex allergy has been detected in 8-25% of healthcare workers.

Soap and Detergents: Healthcare personnel working in the operating room wash their hands many times a day with water-soap-detergent or solutions containing chemicals. Water, soap and detergent cause changes in the keratin layer of the skin, such as damage to the alkaline environment, destruction of lipids, deterioration of the protective properties of the skin, and damage to the water retention capacity by destroying amino acids.

Substances Used for Sterilization Purposes: Sterilization substances, which are frequently used to prevent the spread of infectious disease agents, may cause liver toxicity on healthcare workers in the long term and some negative effects during pregnancy.

Waste Gases: Exposure to anesthesia gases not only causes headaches, fatigue, irritability, nausea, but also affects the reproductive systems of healthcare personnel, causing miscarriages during pregnancy and premature births in female employees.

Biological Risk Factors: Healthcare personnel are more exposed to infectious diseases than other sector employees. The operating room is a biologically riskier department than other departments in the hospital. Although sharps injuries are the most common injuries in the operating room; Surgical power tool, screws, catheter tips, laundry forceps, guide wires, thoracars and medicine bottles also cause glove tearing and injuries.

Ergonomic Risk Factors: Ergonomics is an important issue that is overlooked. The risk of injury for employees exposed to ergonomic risk factors increases. Occupational diseases may occur when there is a discrepancy between the physical capacity of the employee and the physical conditions of a job. In particular, the ergonomics of the surgical power tool that can be controlled with one hand are important factors for the user’s wrist health and the success of the incision.

Psycho-Social Risk Factors: Operating rooms are closed environments where life-threatening situations occur, working hours are long, and personal needs cannot be met in urgent situations. In these environments, the long duration of surgeries demotivates the staff, and the lack of environments where they can meet their personal needs such as food and rest puts the staff under stress.

Work Accidents: The most common work accidents encountered by healthcare personnel working in operating rooms are soft tissue traumas, waist muscle and joint injuries, impacts and falls. It is seen that they encounter traumas.

Occupational Diseases: Health personnel working in the operating room constantly use electrical or electronic devices, heavy carrying and lifting during patient transfer, exposure to blood and body fluids, exposure to radioactive and chemical substances, having to provide services with cutting and piercing tools, and constantly being exposed to biological diseases. There is a risk of disease by exposure to agents.


Precautions Against Physical Risks

The electricity-water system must be safe, the ventilation system must be selected in accordance with the standards, the floor must be made of suitable material and warning signs must be used for wet floors. Weight limits of medical devices and materials should be specified, appropriate conditions should be created for transportation, and routine checks and inspections should be carried out by expert personnel. Employees should be informed through in-service training and orientation programs.

Precautions to be Taken Against Chemical Risks

All disinfectants and antiseptics used in the operating room should be selected appropriately and used in accordance with the user manual, and safety precautions such as protective clothing and gas mask should be taken for the Ethylene Oxide sterilizer. Appropriate physical conditions must be provided in sterilization units, and routine control of anesthesia machines must be carried out by expert employees.

Precautions to be Taken Against Biological Risks

When using cutting and piercing tools during surgery, a verbal warning should be given and instead of passing them from hand to hand, they should be placed in a sterile tray or kidney tub where the tools are placed and collected, and in cases where they need to be extended, they should be extended by keeping the sharp edges away from the hand and removed from the environment immediately after use.

Precautions to be Taken Against Psychological Risks

It is necessary to provide psychological support to personnel in areas where burnout syndrome and loss of motivation occur. In cases where support is insufficient, a change of duty area should be made as appropriate. Orientation and in-service training should be provided, duties, authorities and responsibilities should be written in order to prevent team conflict.

should be reported to the staff. Confidential surveys should be conducted regularly by the management against the risk of mobbing, and in case of mobbing, there should be a unit that the employee can easily apply to, and job satisfaction should be increased.

Precautions to be Taken Against Ergonomic Risks

Operating rooms should be designed ergonomically, and materials that lie scattered on the floor and narrow working areas should be removed. Slippery and wet floors should be cleaned immediately and warning signs should be placed if necessary. In order to alleviate the musculoskeletal system discomfort caused by static posture during long-term surgeries, fatigue-relieving mats with small air cushions should be used, and medical personnel should be provided with orthopedic shoes that fit well and support the feet, are closed at the front and are wide enough to allow finger movements, and have a heel height of at least 5 cm. It should be recommended that the patient should wear it, and the employment of appropriate number and qualifications of healthcare personnel should be ensured.

Precautions to be Taken Against Work Accidents

In order to prevent or reduce occupational accidents in working environments, the causes of occupational accidents and unsafe situations caused by employees must be determined and eliminated or minimized. In order to prevent work accidents, healthcare personnel need managerial and organizational support. Personnel who have a work accident must report the accident. Warning signs against falls and impacts should be used. Personal protective equipment should be used when using chemicals, and in case of exposure, written documents should be hung in a place where everyone can see them.

Precautions to be Taken Against Occupational Diseases

Regarding the occupational diseases to which personnel working in operating rooms are exposed, risks must first be identified and protective measures must be taken. Ensuring proper functioning of the ventilation system is among the precautions that must be taken to prevent respiratory system diseases that may occur due to chemical substances.

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