Too often, individuals believe that on-the-job injuries only relate to heavy industries such as construction or factory work. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even healthcare professionals are not immune to being injured during work.
Historically, hospitals have recorded more work-related injuries and illnesses than private industries as a whole. While exposure to illness and dangerous patient conditions is expected, physical injuries can be something of a shock. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests there are five main causes for injuries to hospital workers:
- Overexertion and strain: Nearly half of the worker injuries in the data were categorized as overexertion. This can be caused by the body’s reaction to lifting, bending or reaching. Muscle pulls and strains can be serious injuries requiring time away from work and physical therapy to heal.
- Slips, trips and falls: Whether from debris on the floor, spills, torn carpeting or loose handrails, hospital workers who fall down risk serious injuries.
- Contact with sharp or dangerous objects: Scissors, scalpels, knives, needles and any other dangerous object must be properly disposed of or stored when not in use. These instruments are strong and sharp and can pierce the skin and subcutaneous tissue without much effort.
- Violence from patients or their relatives: Whether it is a patient under the influence of drugs or a relative angered by their situation, it is not uncommon for hospital workers to become the victims of violent acts.
- Exposure to dangerous substances: Toxic exposure can lead to devastating conditions or severe illnesses. This exposure can come from patient illness contamination or prolonged contact with dangerous chemicals.
Supervisors and facilities managers must be diligent in keeping hospital workers safe. From the proper disposal of hazardous materials to the proper levels of security staff and training to deal with violent visitors, safety must be reinforced at every turn. Through education and training, workers can be taught to identify and assess risks to avoid injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, lacerations or infection.