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Perceptions regarding workplace hazards at a veterinary teaching hospital

Dustin R. Weaver MPH1, Lee S. Newman MD, MA2, Dennis C. Lezotte PhD3, and Paul S. Morley DVM, PhD, DACVIM4
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  • 1 Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; and Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Denver, CO 80262.
  • | 2 Health Sciences Center, University of Colorado Denver, 12101 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80217; and Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Denver, CO 80262.
  • | 3 Health Sciences Center, University of Colorado Denver, 12101 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80217; and Biostatic and Informatics, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Denver, CO 80262.
  • | 4 Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; and Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Denver, CO 80262.

Abstract

Objective—To assess perceptions of personnel working at a veterinary teaching hospital regarding risks of occupational hazards and compare those perceptions with assessments made by occupational safety experts.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Study Population—A representative sample of personnel (n = 90) working at the veterinary teaching hospital at Colorado State University and a panel of 3 occupational safety experts.

Procedures—Hospital personnel ranked perceptions of 14 physical, chemical, and biological workplace hazards and listed the injuries, illnesses, and near misses they had experienced. The expert panel provided consensus rankings of the same 14 hazards for 9 sections of the facility. Risk perceptions provided by the 2 sources were compared.

Results—Risk perceptions did not differ significantly between hospital personnel and the expert panel for most of the site-specific comparisons (94/126 [75%]). Personnel perceived greater risks for some physical hazards (loud noises, sharps injuries, and ionizing radiation) and some chemical or materials exposures (insecticides or pesticides and tissue digester emissions). In contrast, the expert panel perceived greater risks for physical hazards (bite or crush and restraining and moving animals), chemical exposures (anesthetic waste gas), and biological exposures (Toxoplasma gondii, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, and allergens).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Participants and safety experts had similar perceptions about occupational risks, but there were important differences where hospital personnel apparently overestimated or underappreciated the risks for workplace hazards. This type of study may be useful in guiding development of optimal workplace safety programs for veterinary hospitals.

Abstract

Objective—To assess perceptions of personnel working at a veterinary teaching hospital regarding risks of occupational hazards and compare those perceptions with assessments made by occupational safety experts.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Study Population—A representative sample of personnel (n = 90) working at the veterinary teaching hospital at Colorado State University and a panel of 3 occupational safety experts.

Procedures—Hospital personnel ranked perceptions of 14 physical, chemical, and biological workplace hazards and listed the injuries, illnesses, and near misses they had experienced. The expert panel provided consensus rankings of the same 14 hazards for 9 sections of the facility. Risk perceptions provided by the 2 sources were compared.

Results—Risk perceptions did not differ significantly between hospital personnel and the expert panel for most of the site-specific comparisons (94/126 [75%]). Personnel perceived greater risks for some physical hazards (loud noises, sharps injuries, and ionizing radiation) and some chemical or materials exposures (insecticides or pesticides and tissue digester emissions). In contrast, the expert panel perceived greater risks for physical hazards (bite or crush and restraining and moving animals), chemical exposures (anesthetic waste gas), and biological exposures (Toxoplasma gondii, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, and allergens).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Participants and safety experts had similar perceptions about occupational risks, but there were important differences where hospital personnel apparently overestimated or underappreciated the risks for workplace hazards. This type of study may be useful in guiding development of optimal workplace safety programs for veterinary hospitals.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University.

The authors thank Drs. Kenneth D. Blehm and Delvin R. Sandfort for assistance with evaluation of the JLV-VTH, Dr. Blehm for administrative assistance, and Craig Kiebler and Chelsea Zimmerman for assistance with interviews.

Address correspondence to Dr. Morley (Paul.Morley@colostate.edu).