Pharmacies are the lifeblood of community healthcare, being a vital pathway to care and support in every borough of the UK. There are 11,600 pharmacies across the country, amongst which yours stands proudly. Pharmacies obviously have a duty of care to their patients and customers, and rigorous safety practices surrounding the safe storage and dispensation of medicine – but that duty of care also extends to fellow staff.

This is to say that health and safety is a paramount concern for any pharmacy or pharmacist, and that great care should always be taken to uphold the highest possible standards with regard to health and safety. With this in mind, what follows is a refresher on some of the key hazards that could give way to workplace injury in your pharmacy – and how to mitigate the risk of injury.

Biological Hazards

Biological hazards are ever-present, and prescient in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Though the COVID-19 virus was eventually shown not to be particularly resilient on surfaces, good practice was still to regularly disinfect surfaces and handles where possible – something which should still be a part of regular routine in your pharmacy. Likewise, face masks are a solid way to reduce the risk of infection or contamination, particularly where the handing over of biological samples is concerned.

Chemical Hazards

Pharmacies shoulder a particularly high level of risk when it comes to chemical hazards, with a large variety of medicines being chemically dangerous in certain situations or quantities – whether due to allergies or risk of illness when exposed to large quantities. For this reason, robust and comprehensive rules are in place to govern the storage and handling of prescription items. There are also cleaning chemicals to consider, though, which should be stored with respect to COSHH guidelines.

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards come in a variety of forms, from temporary hazards like clutter in hallways to evergreen hazards like steps and low ceilings. If your pharmacy has a large storage zone, such as for the fulfilment of batch and delivery orders, workers may pose a physical risk to others – particularly when working at height. With this in mind, hi-vis clothing items would be prudent to wear when navigating the warehouse, and cordons a smart way to limit access to areas where ladders are in use.

Electrical Hazards

Electrical hazards in pharmacy settings are more or less equivalent to electrical hazards in other administrative and retail settings. Wall outlets should not be overdrawn through the use of multiple extension cables, and pharmacy equipment should be PAT tested to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

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