Each occupation in California has its unique hazards that threaten the health and safety of employees. According to the safety authorities, healthcare workers are in one of the most dangerous fields of employment. Workers in this industry are all faced with significant risks of contracting infectious diseases, not only in hospitals but all healthcare environments, including outpatient facilities, emergency rooms, nursing homes, mental institutions, prisons, ambulances and more.
Infectious viruses can be present in blood, semen, saliva and feces, as well as needles or other sharp objects that break the skin. When any of these enter a worker's body through broken skin, ingestion or by being splattered onto mucous membranes in the mouth, eyes or nose, the consequences could be severe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict regulations in place to prevent bloodborne pathogens from causing various diseases.
Typical infectious diseases contracted by healthcare workers include Hepatitis A, B, C and Delta hepatitis. HIV/AIDS is also a significant risk when infected body fluids of blood enter a nurse's body through broken skin. In various settings, healthcare workers are exposed to other infectious diseases that include mumps, measles, influenza and rubella. The only defense these workers have is wearing appropriate personal protective gear at all times.
Healthcare workers in California who become infected by viruses through workplace exposure could suffer long-term consequences. Ongoing medical treatment might be necessary, which could cause extended periods of absence from work. Fortunately, affected workers can focus on recovering because the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program will cover the medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the benefits claims process.