When considering common work-related injuries, the most dangerous industries are assumed to be construction, industrial work, farming, or fishing. While these industries carry a higher risk of fatality, the most work-related injuries in the U.S. occur in the health care industry. According to recent reports, health care workers suffer more injuries and illnesses on the job than in any other industry.
Health care workers face a number of potential dangers on the job. In addition to exposure to illness, bacteria and disease, workers can be physically injured in violent attacks by mentally ill patients, suffer injuries because of equipment, or suffer from repetitive stress injuries. Our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to helping victims recover compensation after a work-related injury. We are also committed to raising awareness surrounding the safety of workers in the health care industry.
Safety advocates blame the limited federal safety standards and lack of inspections of health care facilities. According to a report published by Public Citizen (a national safety advocacy non-profit), health care workers had 654,000 workplace injuries in 2010. This is 152,000 more injuries than the 2nd most dangerous industry for workers: manufacturing.
One reason health care workers suffer so many injuries is the sheer number of employees nationwide. However, safety advocates believe that the reason for the number of injuries is directly related to the lack of oversight. According to the Public Citizen report, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration performs 20 times more inspections of construction sites than health care facilities. This statistic is especially shocking when you consider that the number of workers in health care outnumber manufacturing and construction by 2-1.
Advocates believe that OSHA (the federal agency charged with ensuring compliance and safe work environments), has breached its commitment and has failed to keep health care workers safe. Some of the known risks to health care workers include needle punctures, back injuries, latex allergies, patient violence, and exposure to disease. Safety advocates believe that with proper inspection and implementation of safety procedures, many of these injuries can be avoided.
Though workers in construction and manufacturing jobs are more likely to suffer from fatalities, health care work sites should also be deserving of inspections and safety. OSHA officials have not directly responded to the new report, however an older statement indicates that they do need a better record of keeping health care workers safe. OSHA has acknowledged that health care workers face the highest risk of work-related injuries and illness.
Some safety standards implemented by OSHA include a blood-borne pathogen standard and safe patient handling. One issue raised by safety advocates is that the agency lacks a standard to reduce physical stress from activities such as lifting patients. OSHA has also established the National Emphasis program; however, it only covers workers in nursing homes and residential care facilities.
Health care workers, including doctors, nurses, nursing aides, orderlies and attendees may be entitled to workers compensation. Any work-related illness or injury should be documented by a medical professional. You can also seek additional support from an experienced workers’ compensation advocate.
If you or someone you love has suffered a work accident or injury, contact the Lee Law Offices at 1-800-887-1965 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your right to benefi
More Blog Entries:
New Legislation Aims to Bolster OSHA Role in Worker Safety, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 25, 2013
Acupuncture May Provide Relief for Workers With Chronic Pain, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 28, 2013