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Small changes could have large effect on health care workers' safety

Whether it is a surgeon who uses sharp objects to operate on patients or it is a nursing assistant who is responsible for lifting and caring for patients with mobility issues, Colorado health care workers are at a high risk of a workplace accident or injury. If the state of Colorado, or the health care facilities within the state, made a few small changes, it could be an important step toward making health care employees safer.

Currently, people who are employed in health care are at high risk of injury while on the clock. The most common risks include exposure to pathogens, violence in the workplace, strains, sprains and muscle tears, needle sticks, and falls. The health care field is one of the industries in which illness and injuries occur quite often, which in turn can significantly increase lost work time.

One step that could reduce employee injuries is properly educating staff about best practices and safety and how to properly and safely use devices.

For example, one of the actions that cause many injuries is lifting patients, which some health care employees must do many times throughout the day. Neck and back injuries are common from lifting improperly, but there are also some health care companies working to decrease those injuries. Now, there are devices that use can aid or completely move and lift patients.

In cases of needle punctures, one of the other main causes of injuries, injectors that are needle free are being worked on, as well as safer, closed-loop catheters. Moreover, gloves that are resistant to needle sticks and one-handed syringes that retract automatically can also be used to protect health care workers.

Though Colorado health care workers may be exposed to very serious risks, they may also collect workers' compensation benefits should they ever be injured on the job.

Source: WIBC, "Statewide Initiative Aimed at Healthcare Workers," Reed Parker, Feb. 5, 2013

Visit our workers' comp for health care workers page to learn more about the various workplace risks that health care workers face on a daily basis.

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