OH&S - The mortuary

    OH&S is an important part of the funeral industry as there are many hazards to contend with regularly. From back injuries to infections or even burns, while not a dangerous industry it is hazardous.  Here is a briefe guide to keep you safe in the mortuary.

Look at the board as you enter: Any decent funeral home will have a white board in its mortuary.  This board contains all relevant information about the deceased within the fridge, from name and date of death to size and whether they have a pacemaker or are infectious.  So have a quick look to see if anyone has an old date of death, lots of fluids or is infectious before jumping in.

PPE or Personal Protective Equipment: Protective equipment and clothing is key with any OH&S.  It can range from basic gloves to special masks.


- PPE; Gloves: This is rather simple but easy to miss.  Put on gloves before entering the mortuary and continue to wear them at all times once inside.  Naturally there will be times where you have to take them off while in the mortuary.  This is not an issue so long as you touch as little as possible without gloves and wash your hands afterwards.

<>   Warning: Wearing latex based gloves or other equipment regularly and often can result in latex allergies, especially with products containing latex powder.  Symptoms include; skin irritations/dryness, vomiting, nausea, difficulty breathing, headaches, etc.  Latex free gloves and equipment will prevent this.   <>

- Double glove: This is where you wear two gloves on each hand, so a total of four gloves.  Some think that this is a little silly or over the top.  But it reduces the chance of something getting through a broken glove and if you need to take the outer gloves off for some reason then you are still wearing a pair which are clean.  I really liked to double glove in many situations and not just where the work was dirty, even transfer.  So while I really recommend it it is not always praticale or viable.  For one it waists gloves (which add up) and can take time if they gloves do not fit well.

- PPE; Shoe caps: These are basically shower caps to wear over your shoes.  It prevents you walking things in or our of the mortuary on your shoes.  Not all mortuaries will have these, nor are they actually that important.  If they are available then use them, if not do not worry.

- PPE; Masks: Not always essential or useful but necessary in certain situations.  For example with a bad decomp body or when embalming.

- PPE; Goggles: Just like the maks it is not always useful but when it is it becomes essential.  For example when embalming fluids can squirt, these are not fluids you want in your eye.

Wash and disinfect hands: Again this is simple and easy to miss yet so important to basic safety and hygiene.

- Alcohol based cleaning: Alcohol based cleaning products and hand sanitises greatly reduce the chance of infection.  Just after exiting the mortuary or as soon as you are back in the transfer vehicle use a small bit of this type of hand sanitiser.  It i simple and effective.

- Wipe up fluids as you go: This falls into two categories as it presents two different types of danger.  Fluids (such as blood, stomach contents, etc) can contain infectious diseases and so they should be dealt with asap.


- Careful when lifting: The biggest hazard in the mortuary (and industry) is back injuries.  Keep your back straight and bend your knees.  Always ask for help if you are not confident and do not be a hero.

- Get a grip on the body: When moving the body about, especially if rolling it on its side, make sure you have a good grip on the body and good footing on the ground.  Bodies are often surprisingly heavy and do not help, they're just dead weight.  To roll a body safely put one hand on the furthest side of its hip and using your other hand take the furthest arm of the body.  Next pull towards you with both hands together and the body should roll to the side.  Do not pull too far or you will end up on the ground with a body on top of you.

Wipe up fluids and liquids as you go: This falls into two categories as it presents two different types of danger.  Fluids (such as blood, stomach contents, etc) can be slippery and give you trouble when try to move the body.  So wipe them up and prevent an accident.


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