Healthcare workers face a number of dangers in the workplace. Considering that it is quickest growing sector of the American economy employing more than 20 million individuals, it is easy to understand why the number of injuries and illnesses sustained by healthcare workers is also on the rise. About 80 percent of the U.S. healthcare work force consists of women. Workers in this industry face hazards ranging from exposure to harmful chemicals and drugs to slip-and-fall injuries and workplace violence. In addition to the physical dangers, hospitals can also be an extremely stressful environment for workers, which could lead to psychological issues as well.
Here are some of the most common types of injuries and illnesses suffered by workers in the healthcare industry:
Chemical injuries: Healthcare settings are rife with many dangerous chemicals, which could lead to chemical burns or other types of illnesses. Healthcare workers treat patients with drugs, aerosolized medications and anesthetic gases. They also use chemicals to disinfect and sterilize medical instruments, supplies and work areas. In addition, smoke generated from lasers and other medical devices during surgery and other procedures may also contain chemical substances in addition to pathogens.
Slip trip and fall injuries: This is one of the most common injuries not only in healthcare settings, but any type of workplace. Workers may slip and fall on wet or slippery floors or trip over debris on the floor. It is important that workplaces are kept clean and dry. If there is a spill, it should be marked so employees know that there is a hazardous condition there. Similarly, corridors and other areas of the facility should be kept debris-free to prevent trip and fall accidents. Any stairway defects or worn-out carpeting should be repaired in order to prevent falls. All areas of the facility should be brightly lit to enhance visibility.
Violence in the workplace: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), healthcare workers face a heightened risk of being subject to violent attacks at work. This danger could come from patients, their family members or other visitors to the facility. Hospital workers or those working in the emergency room or in a mental health crisis facility may be particularly at risk because they may have to care for prisoners, criminals or those with severe mental illnesses. Hospitals and clinics are also common targets for prescription drug robberies, further exposing workers to violent acts.
Sprains, strains and bone fractures: These are among the most frequently reported injuries among workers in the healthcare industry. Workers in this field are required to perform a variety of tasks from carrying heavy equipment to physically carrying patients, bathing/dressing them. They may also suffer slipped disc injuries, which damage the discs or tissues that cushion the bones of the spinal cord. Accidents such as falls could result in broken bone injuries as well.
If you are a healthcare worker who has been injured on the job, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits. In some cases, depending on the nature and circumstances of the accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party as well. Our Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers will be able to evaluate your case, assist you with filing your workers’ compensation claim and/or personal injury lawsuit and help negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. Call us for a free consultation and case assessment.
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~J.Y. Glendale CA
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