Adherence to safety practices and risks associated with health care waste management at an academic hospital, Pretoria, South Africa
Background: Adequate knowledge on hazards of healthcare waste and proper handling methods can result in its safe disposal and protection of workers and communities. The study assessed perceptions of healthcare workers on the adherence and risks associated with the practices of healthcare waste management.
Methods: A total of 126 questionnaires were administered in selected wards at an academic hospital to establish training and knowledge on legislations regarding healthcare waste and health hazards associated with such waste.
Results: Sixty nine percent (69.0%) of participants had received training on healthcare waste handling. The highest number of cleaning staff (85.7%) received training from work while 34.8% of the doctors also received training from work. Only 44.1% of the nurses had knowledge about policies on healthcare waste. The majority of the participants (82.0%) had knowledge on the risks associated with handling of healthcare waste. However, only 20.0% of the participants re-capped needles after use and of these 43.5% were doctors. Most of the nurses (64.0%) had been exposed to needle pricks.
Conclusion: Even though 82.0% of the participants believed there were enough management practices enforced with regards to the healthcare waste, it was recommended that there should be more education on the handling of healthcare waste.
Keywords: Healthcare waste; perceptions; risks; disposal, management.
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