Key issues of health and safety for workers in residential aged care: An expert study

Seaward, Liz, Morgan, Damian, and Thomson, Alana (2023) Key issues of health and safety for workers in residential aged care: An expert study. Frontiers in Public Health, 10. 1041949.

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Introduction: Residential aged care (RAC) represents a fast-growing sector within Australia's health care system and is characterized by high levels of workplace injury. To better understand this injury problem, this study investigated key informant perspectives concerning sector occupational health and safety (OHS) focused on key issues associated with the risk of worker injury.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with nine key informants representing (OHS) specialists, healthcare employers, regulators, worker association representatives, and academic researchers in OHS or healthcare. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: This study identified six themes on OHS within RAC including (i) the physical and emotional nature of the work, (ii) casualization of employment, (iii) prioritization, (iv) workforce profile, (v) OHS role construction, and (vi) clinical standards. The study highlighted differences in OHS roles between RAC and other safety-critical sectors regarding governance and management of OHS. The key informants identified a propensity within RAC to downplay or disregard worker OHS issues justified through prioritizing resident safety. Further, neither OHS professional nor institutional logics are prominent in RAC leadership and decision-making where the emphasis is placed on mandatory standards to maintain funding purposes. Several recommendations are made to address identified issues.

Item ID: 77175
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2296-2565
Keywords: aged care OHS, worker injury, residential aged care worker injury, worker health and safety, occupational health and safety, aged care sector, demographics and OHS, physical and emotional work
Copyright Information: © 2023 Seaward, Morgan and Thomson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2023 23:43
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420301 Aged health care @ 50%
35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350505 Occupational and workplace health and safety @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200408 Injury prevention and control @ 50%
11 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 1199 Other commercial services and tourism > 119999 Other commercial services and tourism not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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