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Workforce Safety

In November 2015, the European Parliament, in its own initiative report on the ‘EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2014-2020', highlighted that many healthcare workers were exposed to hazardous chemicals in their workplace, and called for action to improve the situation.

The evaluation of environmental contamination with cytotoxic agents in hospitals is one of the fundamental requirements to ensure the safety of all healthcare professionals.

The presence of traces of various hazardous medicines on a range of work surfaces throughout the hospital medication system, for example, the process flow of medicines within a facility from initial delivery to waste disposal, increases the risk of healthcare workers being exposed to contamination.

To obtain an overview of the current levels of cytotoxic contamination in the workplace in European hospitals, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the European Society of Oncology Pharmacy (ESOP), have engaged in an international, multicentre and non-commercial study to assess the level of environmental contamination by cytotoxic agents in the areas where these medicines are administered.

The aims of the MASHA study (Research about Environmental Contamination by Cytotoxics and Management of Safe Handling Procedures) are:

  • To obtain an overview of the current levels of cytotoxic contamination in the workplace in European hospitals.
  • To detect potential body exposure to cytotoxic agents of ward personnel in the most contaminated hospital wards.
  • To examine the value of a dedicated tutorial of safe handling of cytotoxics in the oncology ward’s workplace to reduce contamination levels.
  • To increase awareness among healthcare workers and their employers about the risks associated with working with hazardous agents and to provide them with measures for protecting their health.

The study results will be reported in a paper in ESMO Open, which may help develop additional steps and programs to improve working conditions and quality control procedures to protect healthcare workers from the adverse effects of occupational exposure to anti-neoplastic medicines, in line with the ‘EU strategy on Health and Safety at Work’.

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