Outpatient Surgery Magazine reported in the March 2017 issue
that workers in the healthcare field are at the highest risk for work injuries, surpassing workers in the construction and mining industries. It’s reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics on workplace injuries and illnesses that in 2010, healthcare workers experienced an injury/illness rate of 5.2 for every 100 full time workers, a number well ahead of private construction sector (4.0), manufacturing (4.4) and natural resources and mining (3.7). In 2015, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported 360,000.00 injuries and illness among health care workers. Exacerbated by pressure to work faster, healthcare workers trip over cords, get splashed by blood and bodily fluids, or cut and punctured by scalpels and syringes, or exposed to radiation and pull muscles or strain tendons while trying to lift or move heavy objects and patients. OSHA estimates that there are roughly 800,000.00 needle stick injuries per year. Back and knee injuries are also on the rise. Patient obesity is on the rise, which converts to workers having to push patients and heavy wheelchairs. A further factor in increased work injuries for healthcare workers is that most medical facilities and hospitals do not have safety programs and safety plans in place to promote an injury free work place like other industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, hospitals are hazardous work places due to unique risks (hospital workers lift, reposition, and transfer patients who have limited mobility). Other unique risks include needle sticks and violence and unique culture (caregivers feel an ethical duty to do no harm to patients). Some will put their own safety and health at risk to help a patient; they are not assembly lines (employees must react to unpredictable events with split decisions). According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics published by OSHA, in 2011, U.S. hospitals recorded 58,860 work related injuries and illnesses that caused employees to miss work.
According to OSHA, a solution to reducing work injuries is for hospitals to implement a safety and health management system (also known as an injury and illness prevention program), which is a proactive, collaborative process to find and fix work place hazards before employees are injured or become ill. Almost all successful systems include: (1) Management leadership; (2) Employee participation; (3) Hazard identification and assessment; (4) Hazard prevention and control; (5) Education and training; (6) Program evaluation and improvement. Another solution to safe patient handling programs which could include equipment, such as ceiling mounted lifts to simple slide sheets; amendable lift policies and patient assessment tools; and training for caregivers for dedicated lifting teams on proper use of equipment.
If you have been injured at work, either in the healthcare field or any other field, please contact Cynthia O’Donnell to discuss your case at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 232-3500 or 1-800-471-6880.