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Healthcare workers vulnerable to job-related injuries and illness

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

New Jersey healthcare workers provide an invaluable service. In the past, that might not have been as greatly appreciated as it is now, nor might it have gotten the attention it deserved. However, with the recent societal circumstances radically changing the everyday duties of people who work in hospitals, medical facilities and provide emergency health services, it is emphasizing the risk that these critical workers face as part of their job.

When workers’ compensation benefits are discussed, healthcare workers might not be considered the most vulnerable people in the workforce. That is generally categorized as those who work construction, are involved in physical labor, are police and firefighters. It can be argued, however, that healthcare workers combine all these duties and more. Understanding factors that contribute to healthcare worker injuries and illness is one aspect. Another is getting workers’ compensation benefits to cover for all that was lost.

Healthcare workers face a unique combination of workplace dangers

In the healthcare field, workers are exposed to illnesses and conditions that they can easily contract and become sick themselves. They must lift people – many of whom are inert or cannot move themselves at all. There is a significant chance for spills and slippery areas that make falling a hazard. They could be confronted with violent patients or family members who pose a threat. Using sharp needles, scalpels and other items that can cut and puncture can cause major damage and even death.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that hospital workers have a higher chance of missing time on the job than people who work in manufacturing and construction – industries that are generally perceived as dangerous. Another challenge is a lack of care and vigilance on the part of the hospital itself. Since care workers are underappreciated, that can extend to their employer not fully realizing how fragile they can be physically. Mental strain might also have a negative impact and force a person off the job. Given the litany of potential risks, healthcare workers should be fully aware of what benefits are available through workers’ compensation.

Understanding what workers’ compensation can provide

Those who miss work due to injury will be fearful as to how they will pay their daily bills, how medical expenses will be covered and what they are entitled to. With these benefits, a worker can get the medical care they need to get back to full health. That includes medication and hospitalization. Depending on the extent of the injuries, the worker can get temporary total disability, permanent partial disability and permanent total disability. If there is a fatality, the family can receive death benefits.

With temporary total disability, it starts if the worker is disabled for more than seven days. There will be 70% of the average weekly wages paid, but it cannot go beyond 75% of the average weekly wage for the state, nor can it go beneath 20% of that total. The benefits stop if the worker gets back on the job or is deemed to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Permanent partial benefits involve “scheduled” losses such as the extremities. “Non-scheduled loss” are back injuries or issues with the internal organs. The person will be paid weekly and will start after the end of temporary disability. Permanent total benefits are provided if the person cannot do any kind of work at all. They will last, at the start, for 450 weeks. The benefits can go beyond that.

Injured healthcare workers should have guidance with workers’ compensation

Simply being injured or becoming ill from the duties as a healthcare professional does not necessarily mean the workers’ compensation claim will be approved or there will be agreement as to how severe the injuries are. Disputes as to severity, how much treatment is needed and how long the worker should be off the job are common. After a healthcare worker is injured while on the job, it may be useful to have assistance with a workers’ compensation case. Now more than ever, this is relevant and imperative.

 

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