Hospitals are supposed to be places of healing, but for some people they are the exact opposite. In fact, workplace accidents happen in medical facilities more frequently than they do in places like construction sites, factories and warehouses. This means that health care workers suffer more injuries than workers in any other industries.
Workplace injuries and occupational illnesses affect around 650,000 workers each and every year. This includes nurses, aides, doctors and others who work in the field. These are men and women who have dedicated their careers to treating some of the injuries and illnesses that they themselves go on to develop.
Not enough workplace inspections
Part of the problem goes back to OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA performs 20% more workplace inspections at construction sites despite the fact that there are twice as many health care workers than construction workers in the United States. The health care industry also reports hundreds of thousands more injuries per year.
According to the nonprofit advocacy organization Public Citizen, this might not be entirely OSHA’s fault. OSHA oversees 7 million work sites but has an annual budget of only $535 million to do so. In 2000, it also tried to implement a new rule that would have protected workers from ergonomic stressors, but Congress repealed it before it could go into effect.
Musculoskeletal problems are common
Back injuries cost the health care industry an estimated $7 billion a year. Back and other musculoskeletal injuries are actually the main reason that health care workers choose to leave the industry. Workers most affected by musculoskeletal injuries include:
- Nursing aides
OSHA is trying to help lower the number of these and other workplace injuries in nursing homes. Its national emphasis program addresses things like ergonomic stressors, workplace violence and falls. However, it does not extend to other health care settings.
Workers deserve protection
There is no such thing as a risk free workplace. But this does not mean that workers simply have to accept that they are in harm’s way whenever they clock in. Instead, employers should be certain to implement necessary safety features, such as ergonomic surfaces and better policies.
You need help getting your life back on track if you suffered an injury on the job. Like most victims of workplace accidents, you are probably struggling with your finances because of missed paychecks and mounting medical debt. Because help could prove beneficial, you may want to contact an attorney who is familiar with North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system.