May 25, 2021

Survey: HCWs report concerns about unsafe working conditions during COVID-19

Editor's Note

The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, in Washington, DC, released a report on May 25 that summarizes findings from a national survey of frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey of 1,200 HCWs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia was conducted from the beginning of May 2020 through June 2020.

Among concerns that were repeatedly mentioned:

  • Frustration with unsafe working conditions, especially lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)—HCWs feared they might infect patients and family.
  • Perceptions that employers prioritized their financial bottom lines over HCW safety and created an unhealthy environment where workers felt devalued and threatened.
  • Dissatisfaction with constantly changing employer and national guidelines—respondents described being asked to follow non-evidence-based policies and how inconsistent guidelines engendered mistrust among HCWs.
  • Distress about hostile work environments created by employers who engaged in retaliatory and bullying behavior to HCWs who voiced safety concerns.

The survey respondents stressed the need for improved communication and the need for the federal government to increase PPE stockpiles. They also urged regulations and enforcement from agencies and policymakers to protect the occupational safety and health of HCWs.

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