Hospitals can be risky places to work

Hand of a dying patient lying on a mobile bed in hospital corridThe notion that it could be more dangerous to work in a hospital than to work on a construction site might sound absurd. Hospitals exist in order to counteract the effects of injury and disease, so the fact that they are a leading cause of workplace injuries and diseases is troubling.

Every year, data on the relationship between injuries, diseases and health workers are collected in order to identify problems and come up with solutions. Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration shed a particularly alarming light on hospitals as a source of injury risk to workers.

Out of every 100 hospital workers, 6.8 sustain injuries during the year that require them to miss time from work. As small as that number sounds, it doesn’t capture many of the injuries workers are experiencing at hospitals. Serious injuries that do not require time away from the workplace are not factored into this calculation, even though they have a high potential of worsening later on.

Common injury causes

Hospitals treat all types of injuries and diseases using a wide variety of structures, equipment and processes. This variety, combined with a high-paced, highly demanding environment, produces several potential causes of injury. The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on the causes of injury in hospitals, which include the following:

  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Hazardous material
  • Slips, trips and falls

Injuries resulting from a slip-and-fall are particularly common, according to the BLS, because of the high occurrence of spilled liquids or obtrusive equipment in hallways and treatment rooms.

Aging workforce is concerning

Another reason that injuries to hospital workers are on an upward trend is related to the aging working population in the United States. To illustrate, older workers are particularly vulnerable to infections and musculoskeletal problems. Because these older hospital workers are exposed to ill patients and immobile patients needing to be lifted or repositioned, the high rate of injuries in hospitals may continue.

Sustaining a workplace injury can be a financially devistating experience. Medical bills and lost wages, among other potential damages, are capable of overwhelming family budgets. State law in Illinois protects workers from the financial liability associated with getting hurt on the job. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases Act entitles injured workers with benefits related to the injury in question, so long as the relationship between the workplace and the injury can be proven. In order to ensure that the administrative procedures and other complexities of the claim  process are understood, injured workers may wish to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.