Research indicates that the health care sector is particularly vulnerable to a wide range of occupational health and safety (OHS) hazards causing musculoskeletal injuries, infectious diseases, chemical-induced disorders and mental stress, among other work-related illnesses and injuries. Evidence also suggests that looking after the well-being of health care workers results in safer and better quality patient care.
Recognizing that this is a critical issue in its members’ workplaces, the CAMRT addressed this issue in its strategic plan, committing to establish guidelines that facilitate safe and effective practice and to support the occupational health and safety of MRTs in the workplace.
This new OHS resource centre has been created to provide CAMRT members and their employers with sound advice and links to valuable information that will assist them to design and sustain healthy work environments.
Current OHS Topics in our resource centre
Ergonomics is the science related to humans and how we work. It encompasses the anatomic, physiologic, and mechanical principles affecting the efficient use of human energy.
For medical radiation technologists ergonomics is a central component to keeping technologists healthy and strong within the workplace. The demands we put on our bodies vary significantly depending on our individual working conditions.
Many technologists will be in a standing position for long periods of time during the day. Therefore, proper body alignment and posture are very important.
Conversely a large number of technologists will be seated for long periods of time in an office like setting.
It is imperative that all workstations be setup in a proper manner and that they are adjustable. Technologists often share workspaces and computer terminals making proper setup a crucial element in our day-to-day work.
The vast majority of medical radiation technologists will be in direct patient contact and lifting or moving patients is a regular component of the job. Proper lifting position and technique, along with good back care, are critical to the physical well being of workers.
Many medical radiation technologists are familiar with fatigue caused by physical exertion or sleep disruption. Working in health care facilities, many MRTs are exposed to both.
Fatigue (also commonly referred to as exhaustion) usually manifests as a state of low energy of a physical or mental nature; and can impact all aspects of a health care professional’s life. Therefore, it is important that medical radiation technologists are aware of the nature of fatigue, its causes and effects, and how to cope with it. The following site provides a general reference on fatigue, along with some tips and techniques to help cope.
In providing health care as a continuous service or for extended hours within their workplace, for many technologists shift work is an established condition of their work life, and subsequently, could be the precursor to physical or mental fatigue. Consequently, it is also important for technologists to be aware of how sleep disruption can affect them. The following section provides general information on this, along with some tips to ease the effects of shift work on daily life.
“Compassion fatigue can strike the most caring and dedicated …” (Transforming Compassion Fatigue into Compassion Satisfaction)
With the likely exposure to traumatic events via emergency care, or the caring for chronically or terminally ill patients, many MRTs should be aware of the personal and professional effects of the “cost of caring for others”.
Infection control is always a hot topic in health care circles. As frontline health care providers it is important that medical radiation technologists have current information on communicable diseases and take proper measures to minimize risk, as we are exposed to them in one form or another on a daily basis.
Much of the material highlighted in this section will be well documented within your workplace and is intended as a review of some of the key points.
Prevention Means & Methods
Universal precautions (Routine Practices) are the North American guidelines that remain the gold standard for diseases that are spread by blood and certain body fluids. These precautions must be followed diligently, as all provinces and territories have laws in place regarding universal precautions.
Hand washing, disinfection and sterilization are key components to dealing with the spread of infection.
- Hand hygiene, Health Canada
- Hand washing: Reducing the risk of common infections
Health Canada has published comprehensive clinical guidelines entitled Infection Control Guidelines, and Routine Practices and Additional Precautions for Preventing the Transmission of Infection in Health Care, that describe in great detail the preventative measures that can be taken within the health care community.
- Reports and publications, Health Canada
Current Hot Topics for Healthcare Workers
- Canadian Public Health Services
- Canadian Public Health Services, for Health professionals
- World Health Organization
Hepatitis A, B & C
- Pandemic Influenza, for Health Professionals
- Influenza surveillance (Fluwatch)
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria and Organisms
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
- Respiratory Protection Against Airborne Infectious Agents for Health Care Workers
- HIV/AIDS Precautions
- HIV/AIDS Precautions – Health Care
- Clostridium Difficile
- Common Cold
- Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB)
- Needlestick and Sharps Injuries
The medical radiation technology fields include a large component of female professionals. Therefore, it should be expected there will be times when the workplace will have to accommodate workers in various stages of pregnancy.
Although health and safety issues apply to everyone in the field, the pregnant worker has additional issues to consider, such as the changing physical demands pregnancy places on the body, along with the health and well-being of the fetus.
The following sites provide some information to assist the pregnant worker:
Through education/training and work regulations, MRTs are very aware that excess exposure to radiation can have a detrimental impact to the health and wellbeing of not only patients, but also themselves and those around them. Therefore, it is very important for MRTs to keep informed of the risks, and safety precautions required, when working with radiation.
The following sites are intended for use as either quick, easy refreshers to more in-depth references in regards to occupational radiation exposure.
Easy to read refresher or patient reference
Quick refresher or reference of basic terms, facts and figures
Comprehensive reference / guidelines
- (Safety Code 35A – Appendix I) Dose Limits for Occupational Ionizing Radiation Exposures
- Assessment and Management of Cancer Risks From Radiological and Chemical Hazards (archived document)
Repetitive strain injuries (also commonly referred to as repetitive stress or work-related musculoskeletal disorder) occur when too much stress is placed on a part of the body, resulting in inflammation (pain and swelling), muscle strain, or tissue damage. This stress generally occurs from repeating the same movements over and over again.
Medical radiation technologists perform many repetitive tasks in awkward and often uncomfortable positions. It is important for technologist to understand the signs of repetitive strain injuries.
Reporting signs of repetitive strain injuries to your supervisor and seeking appropriate remedies are essential responsibilities and can not be stressed enough. Early intervention is the key to ensure major issues do not develop over time. Listed below are quality websites that give important information. You may also wish to check out our ergonomics section in order to prevent these types of injuries from occurring.
In every workplace, there is the potential of becoming a victim of violence or harassment. The keys to reducing the potential of violence or harassment are knowledge, planning and preparation.
With the above approach, one practical method is recognition of a bad situation, and when possible, avoiding it; or at least, help prevent or reduce its escalation.
The following sites provide some information on the signs or situations that could lead to violence or harassment in the workplace, along with some tips for dealing with them.
Often defined as “any change that must be adapted to”, stress is a fact of life.
Considered on its own, change, or stress, can be a positive or negative experience; and while managing stress successfully can have a positive effect on self-confidence, experiencing too much “negative” stress can have a detrimental effect on personal health and well-being, and job performance.
By gaining knowledge and understanding of themselves and their reactions to stressful situations, MRTs can learn how to handle stress more effectively and reduce their risk of its negative consequences.
The following sites are intended for use as quick, easy-to-read information to more in-depth references on stress.
General introduction and information (includes definitions, cause and effect, coping tips, …)
More comprehensive references (includes descriptions, coping mechanisms, resource links, …)
During the course of their career, MRTs come into contact with a wide variety of substances or agents; from products used in providing health care, to those brought into the workplace through patients, their caregivers or relations, or other staff. This exposure may negatively impact the health and wellbeing of some MRTs, their patients or others who are sensitive to these substances/agents.
However, recognition and understanding of the problem can lead to ways and means to address it, and subsequently reduce the occurrence of substance/agent reactions within the health care setting.
The following sites provide information for a few of the more common reactions.