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Hospitals must do more to protect employees

Hospitals should be safe places that can help people to heal after injuries or illnesses. Unfortunately, workers in these facilities are often at risk of suffering from the exact things that the patients are being treated for.

While it is true that hospitals have taken steps to make this work environment safer, there is still a long way to go. Here are some points that you might find interesting about the safety of hospital employees:

High rate of illness and injury that require time off work

You might not think of a hospital environment as one of the most unsafe for workers. Shockingly, hospitals are the most unsafe environment. Workers in these facilities have injuries and illness that require them to miss work at a rate of 157.5 cases per 10,000 full-time employees. This is higher than other industries that are considered unsafe.

To put it in perspective, the construction industry's rate is 147.4 cases per 10,000 full-time employees. The manufacturing industry's rate is 111.8. There are several reasons for this. One of the most profound is that these other two industries have taken greater strides than hospitals when it comes to improving employees' safety.

A challenging environment

Hospitals are full of situations that can't be predicted. These workers truly never know what they are going to face from one shift to the next. This adds to the difficulty of making improvements in employee safety. Still, it is critical that these facilities have plans for workers so that they can try to remain safe.

There are some risks that are common in hospitals. These can be addressed in a primary safety plan since there is a very good chance that workers will encounter them.

  • Patient transfers: Providing guidance for employees and having transfer equipment on hand to facilitate this task
  • Violent outbursts: Setting clear guidelines for what is acceptable and empowering employees to control the situation in lawful manners
  • Contamination containment: Having protocol in place for handling bodily fluids and sharps
  • Environmental concerns: Requiring slip resistant shoes for workers who might come into contact with slippery floors, including those contaminated with body fluids

Scope of the injuries

The most common injury that leads to days missed for hospital workers is a sprain or strain. These account for around 54 percent of lost time. Other notable injury types include bruises, soreness or pain, fractures, punctures and cuts, and multiple traumas.

The vast majority of these injuries are due to overexertion at work. Around one-third are due to interactions with the patients they are caring for.

Hospital workers who are injured shouldn't try to power through their shifts. Instead, they should get the medical care they need. If they have to take time off of work, a workers' compensation claim might be in order.

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