Around the clock, nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals are on their feet to ensure patients are comfortable, happy and healthy. These professionals often work 12- to 16-hour days and have to make life-saving decisions in mere seconds. For these employees to show up to work unscathed, they need to remain in tip-top shape physically and mentally. Here's how hospital workers can mitigate the risk of workplace injuries.
Nearly 60,000 injuries at work
A hospital is one of the most dangerous places to work. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, hospitals in the U.S. recorded 6.8 work-related injuries for every 100 full-time employees in 2011. That year, there were more than 58,000 documented work-related injuries and sicknesses that made people have to miss work. That number doesn't account for the many nurses, doctors and other employees who continued to work despite less than idyllic physical conditions.
"OSHA explained that hospital work is more hazardous than construction and manufacturing jobs."
OSHA explained that, in relation to lost-time case rates, hospital work is more hazardous than construction and manufacturing jobs. The primary causes of injuries within a hospital setting include slips, trips and falls, overexertion and bodily reaction, violence, contact with objects and exposure to substances.
It's important to note that healthcare happens to be the fastest-growing segment of the economy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that the number of injuries is only going to increase unless hospital employers and employees take action to protect themselves against injuries resulting in days off and upswings in workman's compensation claims.
Bernadette Haskins, a nurse at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, told Modern Healthcare that it's challenging for her to lift patients who are sometimes three times her body weight.
"I love what I do, but the average weight of patients we take care of is about 300 pounds, and sometimes there's no extra help available," Haskins told Modern Healthcare.
Protecting healthcare workers
Since these injuries have become increasingly prevalent without a wide-spread solution, OSHA has taken steps to improve working conditions for medical employees to reduce the risk of injuries. Modern Healthcare reported that OSHA may roll out a new policy that requires hospitals to make information regarding employee injuries and illnesses available to the public in hopes that transparency will help the situation.
In the meantime, hospital employers and employees should continue to take precautionary steps every day to ensure they avoid these common injuries. The uniform itself is one of best tools to combat illness and injury.
As the CDC explained, protective clothing can make someone less likely to come in contact with blood and other bodily fluids, thus reducing the risk of a number of diseases. There are specifications based on national and international standards that call for material to be fluid-resistant and impermeable to substances.
Additionally, hospitals should consider a corporate shoe policy as a means to reduce the risk of common injuries that result in missed days and workman's compensation claims. These policies are a great way to protect hospitals from losing their employees and patients from losing their healthcare professionals.
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