Hospitals are meant to be healing environments for patients and community members. However, hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work. According to the Bureau of Labor, U.S. hospitals recorded 6.8 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees.
In 2011, hospitals had 157.5 cases per 10,000 full-time workers where employees lost time due to severe injuries or illnesses - which did not include injuries where an employee works on modified duty. Healthcare had more time-lost cases than construction and manufacturing.
Potential hazards in hospitals
Hospitals are particularly unique environments because employees often perform different duties while balancing long hours, dangerous tools and unruly patients.
For example, nurses often administer medicine, transfer patients, perform administrative duties and deal with patients more than their primary doctor. It puts nurses at risk for needle-sticks, violence from patients, lifting injuries and significant amounts of stress.
Hospitals are also unpredictable, so employees may have to make split-second decisions that may end with personal harm. It may be unintentional, but it is a daily risk.
It's not surprising that many healthcare workers deal with injuries in their work environment.
Most common healthcare injuries
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, almost half the injuries resulting in days away are caused by overexertion or bodily reaction, including lifting, bending or reaching. The second highest cause was slips, trips and falls to 25 percent.
Regardless of the cause, healthcare workers experience several types of injuries like:
- Sprains and Strains
- Cuts and punctures
- Pain or soreness
- Multiple trauma
These are only the most common injuries, so healthcare workers are also exposed to other illnesses that may impact their career or personal life.
Many hospitals recognized the risks that accompany the workplace, so they implement safety measures to prevent any severe illnesses or injuries. However, accidents will happen, so healthcare workers who are injured may look into workers' compensation to help with medical bills and lost wages.