This study aimed to determine occupational health and safety status and its associated factors among health professionals during this COVID 19 pandemic at SPHMMC and Ras Desta Memorial Hospitals, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In this study, we found that among the total 360 participants 265 (73.6%) of them had good OHS status and 95 (26.4%) of them had poor OHS status. Regarding association factors; work experiences, availability of PPE, availability of disinfectants, availability of water and hand washing facilities, and availability of training on health and safety had a significant association with the OHS status of healthcare professionals at P < 0.05.
Scientific assessments on health and safety of HCP are necessary in this continued COVID-19 pandemic to take suitable measures and maintain their health and safety and save their life from this fatal pandemic. Therefore, this study showed that more than half of study participants 73.6% (95% CI: 68.9–78.3) of health professionals had good occupational health and safety, while 26.4% (95% CI: 21.7– 31.1) health professionals had poor occupational safety and health status. This finding revealed that there were improvements in the OHS status of health professionals when compared to the other study conducted in Oromia, Turkey, and Pakistan at the early stage of the COVID 19 pandemic[4, 12, 13]. This difference might be due to variations in the study setting, socio-cultural difference, availability of PPE and sanitizer at early stage of COVID 19 pandemics and current status to prevent COVID-19 infections of health professionals.
Regarding the availability of PPE (face coverings), HCFs should provide HCPs with appropriate medical face coverings to wear during patient care when performing aerosol-generating procedures according to the WHO and CDC IPC[15, 16]. This study revealed that the availability of face masks increases the OHS status of HCP by 3 times (AOR = 3, 95%CI: 1.7–5.2). This indicated that the shortage of facemask in the hospitals decreases the OHS of HCP during this continued COVID 19 pandemic. This study was similar to a study conducted in Italy and the UK which stated that most health professionals had availability of proper medical facemasks and those who had availability of proper medical masks had low risks of COVID 19 and another infection and their health and safety status was good [5, 26]. This study also showed improvement when compared with other studies conducted during the early stage of the COVID 19 Pandemic when there was a shortage of PPE. The difference might be due to the availability of PPE increased especially facemasks, awareness, and training on the potential use of face masks and IPC use in this continued pandemic.
Occupational health risks from patients to HCPs usually follow contamination of the HCPs’ hands after touching either patients or fomites, therefore, availability of waters and hand washing facilities for hand hygiene is considered as the most important prevention measure for healthcare-associated infections including COVID 19 [21–23]. This study finding highlighted the importance of water availability and hand washing facilities in the studied hospitals. Availability of water and hand washing facilities in the working section increases the OHS status of HCP by 2 times (AOR = 2, 95% CI: 1.1–3.4) which is highly consistent with other research[14, 26]. WHO and CDC COVID 19 Infection Control guidelines recommended that healthcare facilities should provide HCPs with access to a safe, continuous water supply at all outlets and access to the necessary facilities to perform hand washing [16, 25].
Availability of disinfection and cleaning agents are essential for ensuring that medical, surgical instruments and working environments do not transmit infectious diseases to patients and healthcare professionals. This study was also revealed that the availability of cleaning and disinfection agents had a significant association with occupational health and safety status of health professionals, HCP those who had availability of cleaning and disinfection agents were 2 times more likely to have good OHS status than their counterparts (AOR = 2, 95% CI: 1.1, 3.7). This finding indicated that lack of cleaning and disinfection agents in the working sections decreases occupational health and safety status of health professionals by 2 times.
According to WHO, Occupational Safety and Health Convention (No. 155) and Recommendation (No. 164): rights, roles, and responsibilities, health professionals and their representatives have the right to receive adequate information and training on occupational health and safety to prevent health and safety hazards in health care facilities. In this study training on health and safety had also an association with the occupational health and safety status of HCP. Training on health and safety for health workers increases the occupational health and safety status of HP by almost 2 times (AOR = 1.8, 95%CI: 1.13–3.2). This study was also similar to a study conducted in Colombia which stated that health and safety about patient care was essential to reduce HP exposure during this continued Pandemic.
Strength And Limitation Of The Study
The strength of this study was that applying a mixed approach to both self-administered and interviewer-administered questionnaires to reduce data bias during data collection.
The main limitation of this study was limited literature regarding the health and safety of health professionals during this COVID 19 pandemic