European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

Today, the healthcare sector employs around 10% of all workers throughout the EU. More than three-quarters of them are women. People employed in this sector have to deal with activities and environments that pose a threat to their health.

Visit our healthcare section to access  a variety of good practice information ranging from the prevention of needlestick and sharps injuries to promoting mental health, in the form of case studies, frequently asked questions, risk assessment tools and links to relevant information across Europe.

Many of the settings in which health care workers carry out their jobs and the multiplicity of tasks they perform can present a great variety of hazards. 

The nature of their work, whether delivering frontline care for the physically or mentally impaired, or handling patients or providing cleaning services, makes it absolutely vital that health and safety is a priority in this sector.

European data show the proportion of healthcare workers considering their health and safety is at risk because of work they do is higher than the average across all sectors in the EU. In particular, exposure to threats of physical violence and actual acts of violence from colleagues and non-colleagues is highly prevalent compared to other sectors.

The range of risks faced by health workers includes:

  • Biological risks such as infections caused y needlestick injuries
  • Chemical risks including drugs used in the treatment of cancer and disinfectants
  • Physical risks such as ionising radiation
  • Ergonomic risks, for example, patient handling
  • Psychosocial risks including violence and shift work