Healthcare workers face the highest risk of workplace injuries
This article looks at why nurses have the highest rate of workplace injuries and violence in the country.
When people think of the most dangerous and violent professions, they typically think of jobs in law enforcement, firefighting, heavy industry, or other similar areas usually thought of as dangerous. However, what may surprise many is that the most dangerous jobs are actually in healthcare. Nurses, in particular, face higher rates of workplace injury and workplace violence than any other profession. Below is a look at why healthcare can be so dangerous and how California is trying to tackle the problem.
Injuries faced by nurses
As U.S. News & World Report points out, healthcare workers suffer more on-the-job injuries than any other profession, with about 654,000 healthcare workers injured each year. Nurses tend to be at especially high risk of being hurt, largely because their work is so physically demanding and because they tend to interact directly with patients more often than other healthcare workers.
Back injuries are especially common among nurses and this is usually the result of lifting patients. On average, nurses have to lift a patient once every hour. Although there is equipment to assist with lifting patients, this equipment is often not used because it can be slow and cumbersome and there is often extreme pressure on nurses to see as many patients as possible in a relatively short amount of time. Needle sticks and exposure to blood, body fluids, and dangerous chemicals are also hazards that nurses routinely face.
Workplace violence especially common
A type of workplace injury that nurses often face but that tends to get especially overlooked is workplace violence. Shockingly, about 45 percent of all workplace violence incidents happen in healthcare settings. About 20 percent of all nurses and nursing students say they have been physically assaulted at work, usually by patients. Again, nurses are at the highest risk of workplace violence because they are dealing directly with patients and their family members who may be ill, frustrated, and confused by the hospital experience. While workplace violence in healthcare settings is common, only 19 percent of incidents are actually reported.
The good news is that, as Modern Healthcare reports, a law recently went into force in California that requires hospitals to create comprehensive safety plans to protect staff from workplace violence. The law requires hospitals to identify when and where clinicians are vulnerable to workplace violence and to provide training to staff to help reduce the chances of workplace violence occurring.
Help for injured workers
For those who have been injured on the job, help is available. Workers compensation can relieve some of the financial pressure that a serious work-related injury often leads to. A workplace compensation attorney can show people who have been injured how to go about making a claim so that they maximize their chances of receiving the compensation they may be entitled to.