Did you know that a hospital is one of the most hazardous places to work?
Workers in the healthcare industry hold one of the most important and indispensable jobs in society. Yet, these workers face the highest risk of workplace injury today, even surpassing the risks faced by workers in industries such as construction and mining. These workers include hospital staff and nurses that provide healthcare services in private and public clinics, hospitals and home-care services. In this article, we will discuss the risks faced by workers in the healthcare industry.
According to Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), in the year 2010, the healthcare industry saw an illness / injury rate of 5.2 people for every 100 full time workers as compared to 4 per 100 for the private construction industry, 4.4 for the manufacturing and 3.7 for the natural resources and mining industry. For the year 2015, the BLS reported 360,000 workplace related illnesses and injuries among the healthcare industry. This indicates that the problem is only increasing.
Types of Injuries Reported
Those in the health care industry have to face stressful, demanding work-related situations and are exposed to a number fatal and non-fatal injuries, illnesses and diseases, and hazards that workers in other industries do not have to face.
According to the BLS, workers in the healthcare industry have tremendous pressure to work faster and under unpredictable events and stressful situations. They face unique workplace hazards such as getting splashed by blood and other bodily fluids, exposure to radiation, cuts and pricks and punctures by scalpels, needles and syringes, trip over cords, strain muscles and tendons while lifting or moving heavy patients and objects, exposure to violence at the workplace, etc. Apart from these they also face risks of injury due to the nature of their jobs.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report in 2011, the hospitals in the US reported 253,700 work related injuries and illnesses that led to absence from work. In addition, the healthcare industry sees about 800,000 needle pricks a year. Moreover, there is an increase in back and knee injuries that can be directly linked to the increase in patient obesity, as patients have to be lifted and moved in heavy wheelchairs.
Many healthcare workers feel an ethical responsibility towards their patients and tend to neglect their own health.
Preventing Workplace Injuries in the Healthcare Industry
One of the biggest reasons that the workers in the healthcare industry face an increased risk of injuries and illnesses is that many medical facilities and hospitals do not have safety programs to educate employees about workplace safety. There are no safety plans that will help promote an injury-free workplace.
OSHA has recommended implementing a safety and health management system known as an injury and illness prevention program. According to OSHA recommendations, the healthcare industry should implement the following steps:
- Management leadership
- Participation of all employees
- Identification of hazards
- Assessment of hazards
- Prevention and control of hazards identified
- Provision of training and education to all employees
- Evaluation of the program implemented
- Improvement of the program on a time-to-time basis
Are you a healthcare worker who has been injured at work? Get in touch with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation lawyer to understand your rights.