The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is inviting healthcare personnel to participate in an online survey about health and safety practices in working with hazardous chemicals on the job.

NIOSH expects results of the survey to reveal the extent to which healthcare workers may be exposed to chemical agents such as antineoplastic agents, anesthetic gases, surgical smoke, high level disinfectants, chemical sterilants, and aerosolized medications, and the circumstances of potential exposures.

The Institute also hopes to improve its knowledge and understanding of current practices for reducing potential exposures, to identify gaps in those practices, and to design research that will help address those gaps.

NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. predicts a “robust” response to the survey. "Safeguarding healthcare workers from potential occupational hazards is an essential part of providing good jobs for these dedicated men and women, and of furthering high-quality patient care," he said.

The voluntary survey can be accessed at www.niosh-healthcare-survey.org. Respondents will be asked for an organization key which is: HCWS. Individual responses will be kept confidential, and no personal identifiers will be recorded. The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Information to help access the voluntary survey, if needed, is available from a toll-free Help Desk, 1-888-219-5667.

The survey is open until March 26, 2011.