Injury to Healthcare Workers OSHA Focus in 2014

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have debuted a new online resource for medical workers to help to prevent on-the-job injuries, enhance patient handling safety, implement health and safety management systems and to better assess workplace safety needs. The online resource, Worker Safety in Hospitals, includes safe practice guides, self-assessments and a series of fact books.
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“These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Asheville understand that hospitals are some of the most dangerous places in the nation to work. Hospitals and personal care facilities employ approximately 1.6 million workers at 21,000 work sites. In just 2011, there were more than 253,000 work-related illnesses and work-related injuries recorded. Nearly 60,000 of those caused employees to miss work. Workers’ compensation losses totaled $2 billion. That a rate of nearly 7 work-related incidents for every 100 full-time workers. That’s close to twice the rate for private industry.

Over the years, the healthcare rate has remained high despite decreases in the injury rates in both manufacturing and construction, which have traditionally been considered industry categories with higher risk for worker injury and illness. In healthcare, an injury or illness leads to an average of five days away from work.

Although it is possible to prevent or reduce healthcare worker exposure to these hazards, healthcare workers continue to experience injuries and illnesses in the workplace. In addition to the medical staff, large healthcare facilities employ a wide variety of trades that have health and safety hazards associated with them. These include mechanical maintenance, medical equipment maintenance, housekeeping, food service, building and grounds maintenance, laundry, and administrative staff.

By helping to point out the risks and to make the proper safety interventions, we can help to increase worker safety while also enhancing the service these workers can provide to patients.

When a worker is injures on the job, hospitals pay the price in many ways, including workers’ compensation for medical costs and lost wages, temporary staffing, backfilling, and overtime when injured workers miss work. They also feel the burden when an injured worker quits and feel a decrease in productivity and morale when a worker who has been injured suffers emotional and physical fatigue.

Workers in hospitals encounter unique risks that are uncommon in other industries. In particular:

-Hospital workers lift, reposition, and transfer patients who have limited mobility. Larger patients can pose particular challenges for safe handling.

-Workers may be near potentially contagious patients and sharp devices contaminated with bloodborne pathogens.

-Hospitals serve patients with physical or mental health challenges, some of which increase the likelihood of violent outbursts.

More than 90 percent of hospitals say they have systems or programs in place for managing employee safety and health. Certainly, a program on paper is a good first step. However,
it takes effective implementation and commitment to protect workers and reduce injuries and illnesses. The statistics show that hospitals are still relatively hazardous workplaces, and they have much room to improve.

If you have been injured at work in North Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

Change of Condition in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim May Warrant Benefit Modification
, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, January 18, 2014

Your Workers’ Compensation Claim: FAQ, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, January 14, 2014

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