Anyone working within mental health care hospitals or similar facilities specialised in severe learning disabilities, challenging behaviour, special needs or autism, will know that a human bite is a very realistic threat within their specific work environment.
The main problem is that bite related injuries can become infected and mental health care professionals can subsequently be contaminated with pathogens. Transmissions of potentially life threatening viruses, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV are also a part of reality.
The NHS Security Management Service in the United Kingdom claimed just a short while ago that mental health care professionals are far more likely to be attacked than other health care workers with a total of 38,958 assaults in 2008-09, accounting for 71% of attacks on health care staff during that period.
The joint Healthcare Commission and Royal College of Psychiatrists here in the UK also reported that more than half of nurses on mental health wards have been physically attacked.
Looking at the potential and realistic consequences, especially following a human bite, we must look at appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), such as bite protective clothing, in order to help protect mental health care professionals from such consequences, which in the worst case scenario can include death, in case a serious and incurable disease has been transmitted.
Bite protective clothing and sleeves can make a difference
Bite protective clothing has recently become a real option when looking into improving the individual safety of mental health care workers. This new type of PPE will drastically reduce the danger of infections.
“Human bites can cause both physical injury, risk of infection, soft tissue damage and psychological distress to staff. Whilst our staff teams are usually aware of the potential for bites from records of previous incidents and preventative steps are taken, additional measure to protect staff from a bite may be beneficial”, states Debbie Townsend, Physical Intervention Training Manager of the Oxfordshire Learning Disability NHS Trust.
Are you aware that the majority of close combat injuries found on police or security specialists can be found on their forearms or hands? These injuries are classed as defensive injuries. Our normal instinctive response when faced by a possible hostile or attacking individual is to lift our arms and hands in order to defend ourselves and protect our head and facial area. This subsequently exposes our forearm and hands to a higher risk of danger of injuries.
Cut, slash and bite resistant sleeves or arm guards will significantly decrease the risk of bite injuries on arms and hands, and subsequently reduce the risk of infections and cross contamination. They will also reduce the risk of any ‘slash attack’ related injuries.
It is simply our normal instinctive response, when faced by a possible hostile or attacking individual, to lift our arms and hands in order to defend ourselves and protect our head and facial area. This subsequently exposes our forearm and hands to a higher risk of danger of injuries.
In fact the majority of injuries found on police, prison or security officers can be found on their forearms or hands. These injuries are classed as defensive injuries, and are often seen as ‘physical evidence’ in a court of law, that the officer was defending him/herself, as opposed to attacking the other person.
It is worth pointing out here that slash and bite resistant clothing in general only reduces the danger of human teeth penetrating the other person’s skin… but will not quit the potentially painful impact due to the pressure and force of the human jaw. So the danger of infection will be eliminated, but the danger of bruising remains.
However, bite protective sleeves, offering additional (padded) protection from blunt forced trauma, efficiently reducing the severity of potentially painful bruising have now also been developed and made available.
Based on the many conversations I personally had over the past many years I can confirm the main concern within this sector seems to be the risk of infection. Bite protective clothing will effectively reduce this risk!
Robert Kaiser is a globally renowned and well respected expert in the design, development and manufacturing of high performance protective equipment/clothing, offering protection from firearms, edged weapons, hypodermic needles and human bites.