The healthcare industry has one of the highest rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Medical professionals encounter numerous hazards on the job, including infections, exposure to chemicals, workplace violence, and work-related injuries. Healthcare workers are also on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, exposing themselves and their families to the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
As many hospitals have a critical shortage of staff, medical professionals can become overworked due to understaffing and longer work shifts. This, in turn, increases the risk of workplace accidents for healthcare workers.
Fortunately, healthcare workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they sustain an on-the-job injury or develop a work-related illness. If you become sick or injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact our Florida workers’ compensation attorney at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., to help you seek workers’ comp benefits.
Statistics: Occupational injuries & illnesses in the healthcare industry
Statistically speaking, hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work. On average, hospitals across the United States record over 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses every year, which equals to about 6.8 occupational injuries for every 100 full-time employees, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
That’s nearly twice the rate for private industry as a whole and is also higher than the rate of occupational injuries in the construction and manufacturing industries.
Also, the healthcare industry has more cases of work-related injuries and illnesses that result in days away from work, according to OSHA’s detailed report. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average workers’ compensation claim for healthcare workers was $15,860 in 2011.
What are the most common injuries suffered by healthcare workers?
Healthcare workers at risk for many types of injuries and illness, including but not limited to:
- Infections and airborne pathogens: Hospital workers come into contact with potentially sick and infected patients and expose themselves to viruses, bacteria, and a wide range of other disease-causing pathogens.
- Bloodborne infectious diseases: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 385,000 healthcare workers expose themselves to bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases from needlesticks and other sharps injuries each year. As a result, many medical professionals are at risk of becoming infected with HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B or C at work.
- Sprains and strains: According to the same report by OSHA, sprains and strains are the most commonly reported injuries among healthcare professionals. Sprains and strains account for 54% of all injuries among medical workers that result in days away from work.
- Back injuries: Hospital and long-term care facility workers are prone to herniated discs and other back injuries caused by bending as well as lifting and moving patients.
- Fractured and broken bones: Healthcare workers are constantly on the move, which is why they are likely to get hurt in a slip and fall accident. This can result in bone fractures and broken bones.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): As mentioned above, hospital workers are more prone to slip and falls, which is why they are likely to sustain head and brain injuries. Also, head trauma can be the result of workplace violence.
- Cuts and puncture wounds: Medical workers work with a lot of sharp instruments on a daily basis, including scissors, needles, scalpels, and others. Improper handling of sharp tools at work can result in cuts and puncture wounds and increase the risk of infection.
This is not the full list of injuries suffered by hospital workers. Medical professions can sustain many other types of occupational injuries. If you are a healthcare worker who suffered a work-related injury or illness, consult with a lawyer to help you seek workers’ compensation benefits through your employer’s insurance company.
Common causes of injury among hospital workers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics collected detailed data on work-related injuries and illnesses in the healthcare industry and determined the most common causes of injury among healthcare workers:
- Overexertion and bodily reaction (33.7%)
- Contact with objects or equipment (26.1%)
- Slip and fall and trip and fall injuries (25.7%)
- Transportation accidents (5.2%)
- Exposure to harmful chemicals, substances, and environments (4.3%)
- Workplace violence and injuries caused by persons or animals (4.2%)
- Other causes (0.7%)
Some of these causes of injury among healthcare workers occur due to understaffing. A shortage of staff increases the risk of different types of injuries because medical professionals become overworked, fatigued, exhausted, and under pressure to work more in a fast-paced environment.
Contact a Florida workers’ compensation attorney
It’s vital to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Florida to make sure that you are getting the compensation you deserve. Often, employers and their insurance companies deny legitimate workers’ compensation claims to reduce their costs. When this happens, seek help from a Florida workers’ compensation attorney to help you explore your legal options if you were hurt at work. Contact our attorneys at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., to schedule a free consultation. Call at (561) 566-5598 today.