Healthcare workers still have high workplace injury rate

Workers in the health care industry face many hazards on-the-job, and it appears that the dangers in the workplace are leading to many workplace injuries in the United States. Injuries in the health care industry resulted in more than two million missed days of work in the U.S. in 2011, according to the UL Workplace Health and Safety organization.

The high number of workplace injuries that led to missed days at work in the health care industry is troubling. The organization reported that the only professions that see higher injury rates are outdoor wilderness workers like fisherman and commercial loggers.

Why is the injury rate for health care workers so high? One reason could be that there are so many health care workers in the U.S. and not enough safety inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Reports show that OSHA only has one inspector for every 59,000 employees. This has led to few workplace safety inspections being completed in the health care industry, and has most likely contributed to the high rate of injuries in health care occupations.

Nursing homes have the highest rate of workplace injuries in the health care industry, and nurses suffer the highest rate of injuries. The most common types of injuries include back injuries, slips, falls and chemical exposure.

To address the hazards workers face in the health care industry, OSHA has started to inspect more facilities to try to prevent workplace accidents and injuries. They are also having targeted inspections that inspect nursing homes and other facilities that have higher rates of injuries.

Workers in the health care industry should be aware of the risks they face and take steps to reduce safety hazards whenever possible. Workers should remember to report any safety hazards or potential issues to their supervisor and if no action is taken, report the issue to OSHA.

Source: UPI, “2 million lost work days a year due to health worker injuries,” Oct. 7, 2013