Helping Others: First do no Harm

Working in the medical industry where people are often injured, diseased, contagious, or dangerous can be a challenge. Medical practitioners must be vigilant in their health and safety efforts so that they can ensure their own safety while helping others.

An important part of health and safety for nurses, doctors and midwives is that any form of care must be complimentary to both parties involved. The term ‘do no harm’ applies to both patients and medical staff. In South Africa, an easy example that comes to mind would be when dealing with a patient who is HIV+. Dealing with needles and open wounds, drawing blood and the frail immunity of such a patient poses a risk to nurses. This is why the proper training and procedures need to be done in order to prevent further spreading.

Medical staff carry the responsibility to act in a manner that promotes and ensures health and safety. Furthermore, they are responsible for passing this behaviour on to patients and those around them. Constant cleanliness may seem like a simple step toward a healthier habitat but it can make a big difference. Nurses must always make sure that they practice with surgically cleaned apparatus and that they always use new tools when necessary.


A hospital or medical environment often has more hazardous chemicals, objects, tools, and drugs available than most other places. Identification, understanding, and training in all of these areas are a prerequisite for working in such an environment. Health and safety risks in this industry are not only due to negligence with patients or contagious diseases. Workplace injuries are of concern too.

Manual handling is the cause of most injuries for nurses. This can be the result of slips or falls, carrying things, handling people, adjusting beds and muscular stress. Undergoing health and safety training minimize such workplace injuries. The fact that health and safety is a department of the medical industry means that these sorts of injuries should not be common practice.

Medical centres and staff are blessings to their communities and must be recognised for the good that they do and the bad that they prevent. If you work in such an industry, remember that being a person who helps those in need does not mean that you are exempt from being in danger. Following procedure and taking part in training is very important – especially for those who have others’ lives in their hands.

Is prioritizing safety an inconvenience?