Feds Focus on Reduction of Injuries among Hospital Workers

Hospitals are among the most dangerous workplaces in the country, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, though the risks are often overlooked.

Federal officials have recently launched initiatives to prevent injuries among hospital workers.

In 2011, American hospitals recorded approximately 253,700 work-related injuries and illnesses, according to OSHA. That works out to a rate of approximately 6.8 work injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time healthcare workers. The rate for hospital workers is more than twice the overall rate for workers in private industry.

You don’t normally think of a sterile, efficient hospital as the scene of accidents and illnesses among workers. The risks faced by hospital workers include:

  • lift and strain injuries
  • slips and falls
  • needle sticks
  • infections from close contact with infected patients
  • injuries from violent or combative patients

Hospital employees may place the safety of patients above all else, including their own health. Consequently, many go above and beyond the call of duty to look after patients in their care, which means that their own safety and health is at risk. Musculoskeletal injuries are a particular hazard for healthcare workers who frequently lift and move patients and perform other manual, repetitive tasks.

Workplace safety in a hospital must be taken seriously. Injured nurses, doctors and other medical personnel are not able to care for patients effectively. And those who contract a hospital-acquired infection or any other illness may transmit the infection to a weakened patient.

Safer patient handling programs can minimize the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and reduce the number of days off work that result. Federal officials also call on hospitals to implement safety and health management systems that are specifically targeted at protecting workers, and improving the quality of patient care.

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