Healthcare Workers and Work Injuries
Healthcare is a hazardous field for several reasons, and the healthcare industry has the highest rates of work-related injuries and illnesses. The annual number of reported injuries and illnesses surpasses those in manufacturing. Causes of injury and illness in healthcare workers include:
- Biological hazards such as bloodborne pathogens, which can be contracted through needlesticks
- Respiratory hazards such as exposure to the waste, anesthetic gas, and other chemical and drug exposures
- Workplace violence
- Overexertion due to lifting and turning patients
- Repetitive tasks
- Slip and falls
- Exposure to radioactive material and x-rays
The above factors contribute to these common injuries in healthcare workers:
- Sprains and strains, ruptured and herniated discs, and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are very common among healthcare workers. Providing healthcare can be a very physical job. Patients who are unable to move must be transported to tests and appointments, and they must be turned in their beds to prevent the development of bedsores. It is not surprising that nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants have one of the highest rates of MSDs of all occupations. Understaffing and long shifts increase the risk of injury. Employees that develop work-related back injuries may have a long recovery period before they are able to return to the job.
- Repetitive motion injuries are a form of MSDs that occurs when a worker is required to use the same muscle group repeatedly for the same task. For example, workers who use computers daily to enter patient data can develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Workplace violence is, unfortunately, a serious hazard for healthcare workers and includes any threat or act of harassment, intimidation, or physical violence. It can take the form of verbal abuse, physical assault, or even homicide. Acts of violence can come from patients on psychotic medications, their families or friends, or from hospitalized criminals receiving treatment. Roughly half of all emergency department nurses report being verbally or physically abused or threatened. Workplace violence can result in injuries like broken bones, fractures, and lacerations.
- Head injuries can also occur from acts of workplace violence as well as from slip and falls.
- Illnesses such as hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS can be contracted through needlesticks and sharps injuries. Healthcare workers also have a higher risk of infection through exposure to airborne pathogens and biological waste.
- Occupational illnesses can result from exposure to toxic chemicals used for sterilization, preservation of specimens for pathology, cleaners, and lab work.
There are many steps hospitals and nursing homes can take to protect their healthcare workers. These include implementing programs to prevent needlesticks and sharps injuries, providing lifting equipment to minimize the risk of back injuries, ensuring adequate security measures are in place, and hiring enough staff so that injuries from overexertion can be avoided.
Help for Injured Healthcare Workers
If you are a healthcare worker who has been injured on the job, you may be eligible for compensation and benefits. An experienced Philadelphia work injury lawyer can advise you on filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, which will pay for medical costs related to your injury. If your injury forces you to miss work, wage loss benefits are available. Disability benefits, both temporary and permanent, may also be paid where applicable. Family members surviving a worker who suffers a fatality are eligible for death benefits.
Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at the Law Office of Gross & Kenny, LLP Advocate for Pennsylvania’s Injured Workers
Contact a skilled Philadelphia work injury lawyer of Gross & Kenny, LLP if you have questions about filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. Our practice is focused exclusively on helping injured workers. Call 215-512-1500 today to schedule a free consultation about your case or contact us online. Our office is conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients throughout the state.