At present there are approximately 785,000 healthcare workers residing in Florida, equating to roughly 3.69 for every 100 residents. While being a doctor or nurse may not seem like a dangerous occupation, the U.S Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stated that a hospital is one of the most dangerous working environments. In fact, statistics have proven that hospital workplace injuries are almost twice as prevalent as those in the private sector, and higher than both manufacturing and construction injuries. The reason healthcare workers are at such an elevated risk for injury is that they are faced with a very unique set of challenges on a daily basis.
Over-exertion injuries are commonplace
During the course of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that healthcare workers were twice as likely to experience an over-exertion injury than those employed in other industries. It was further determined that over-exertion equates to nearly 60% of all healthcare work-related injuries. One of the greatest risk factors for these types of injuries is the repetitive repositioning, lifting and moving of patients, with the back being the most affected area in the body. Heavy lifting, coupled with a lot of twisting and bending, can result in slipped discs, muscle strain and nerve damage, which are not only painful, but debilitating as well.
Slips and falls happen frequently
There are countless hazards in hospitals, clinics and private doctors’ rooms that can result in a worker slipping, tripping or falling. A wet floor can create a very slippery surface, while medical tubing, hoses and electrical wires are a definite tripping hazard. Although not all slips, trips and falls result in life-threatening injuries, fatalities have been reported on numerous occasions. Apart from having a direct effect on the injured worker, these injuries can also impact the employer, as they can be held liable for the employee’s medical costs and lost wages. It is for this reason that risk management for healthcare businesses has become such an important area within the insurance sector.
Exposure to dangerous substances is a daily occurrence
Another common risk healthcare workers come face to face with on a daily basis is the exposure to potentially-dangerous substances. Doctors, nurses, lab technicians and therapists are frequently exposed to bodily waste, blood, mucous, respiratory spray and airborne micro-organisms that can spread a vast variety of viruses and bacteria. Needlestick injuries also pose a huge danger as they can transmit a number of bloodborne diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis. Although healthcare workers take the greatest of care when working with any sharp objects, these injuries can still happen whenever someone is using, disposing of or disassembling needles.
Healthcare workers face a range of risks at their place of work every day. While not all injuries are serious, it is important to remain as vigilant and safe as possible.