Healthcare workers and workplace hazards, part 2

Healthcare workers face all sorts of hazards on the job.

As we noted in the first part of this post, these hazards range from needlesticks (and possible hepatitis exposure) to back pain from lifting patients who are unable to get up (or into) bed on their own.

In this part of the post, let’s dig a bit deeper into some of the risks of illness or injury that healthcare workers face.

As we mentioned, back injuries from lifting patients are a pervasive problem. The term of art, for the types of lifting involved, is “patient handling.”

Doctors do not usually perform this work. Most of it is done by nurses and other support staff who are farther down the wage scale.

The jobs we are talking about that are at risk of musculoskeletal and back injuries include:
• Nurses
• Nursing aides
• Orderlies

Federal statistics show that of all the millions of workers in the healthcare industry, these patient-handling workers suffer the most frequent injuries to their backs and spines.

The rising number of obese patients has contributed significantly to this problem. For more information about obtaining workers’ compensation for such injuries, please visit our page on healthcare workers.

Before concluding this post, let’s highlight one other specific hazard among the many hazards healthcare workers face: workplace violence.

The patient population in hospitals and nursing homes often includes mentally ill people. And for some patients, mental illness can sometimes be a contributing factor in causing them to violently attack a nurse, orderly or other worker.

In short, healthcare workers face many dangers on the job. In trying to care for others, they are often injured (and sometimes even killed) themselves.

Source: CDC: “Safe Patient Handling,” Accessed March 31, 2014

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