Hospital workers and nurses are among the most at-risk workers in the United States when it comes to injuries on the job. In fact, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), hospital workers have more per capita missed work injuries than many other dangerous jobs.
While 147.4 construction workers out of every 100,000 full-time employees end up injured and missing work in any given year, that number is 157.5 for hospital workers. Working in a hospital carries a greater risk of injury than working on a construction site. That fact surprises many people, as does the face that overexertion is the single biggest cause of hospital worker injury.
Aging staff are dealing with heavier patients
Americans have gotten heavier, on average, in recent decades. They require more effort from the people providing care to them in hospitals. Nurses and other hospital staff must lift, reposition and move patients who cannot move themselves. This includes people who cannot lift their own bodies, those with spinal or joint injuries and those confined to bed rest. Moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair or a gurney can require substantial lifting from medical staff.
Even with proper lifting techniques, injuries to the lower back, groin, shoulders and knees are common. Roughly 48 percent of injured hospital workers end up hurt because of overexertion and bodily reaction. The older hospital workers become, the less they can safely lift, in most cases. However, the demand for lifting is only increasing with time, putting older hospital workers at risk of an injury related to patient care.
Slips, falls, hospital equipment and violence are also risks
Another 25 percent of hospital worker injuries relate to slipping, tripping and falling. From bodily fluids to spills, there are many potential sources of falls, especially when hospital workers move quickly to respond to patient distress.
Another 13 percent of injuries result from contact with objects. Getting poked with a needle, struck by a machine or zapped by a defibrillator can all cause serious injury. Finally, 9 percent of hospital work injuries are the result of violence. Patients with dementia or mental health conditions, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or in police custody could lash out, assaulting or otherwise hurting a hospital worker who only intends to help.
Hospital workers deserve compensation for injuries
Medical care requires physical and mental stamina. When a medical worker has suffered injuries, he or she cannot work optimally until fully healed. Workers’ compensation can ensure that injured medical professionals have the time they need to heal without risking financial devastation due to lack of a paycheck and steep medical bills.