Nurses are at risk for injuries on the job in many ways. As a profession, it has one of the highest rates of workplace injuries due to overexertion, falls, and exposure. Yet there are even more hazards on the job that nurses may not even be aware of.
Dave Repsher was severely injured when the Flight for Life helicopter he was serving as a nurse on crashed. It was a faulty fuel tank that was ultimately held responsible for the deep burns over 90 percent of his body. He wasn’t expected to live. His recent settlement of $100 million for his injuries highlights how dangerous all nursing can be and how some hazards are hidden until a tragedy.
As a nurse onboard the Flight for Life helicopters, Repsher knew his job was dangerous. Like many nurses he shrugged off the risks and focused on doing his job. What he didn’t know was that the fuel tank on the helicopter was not at all crash-resistant. In a crash at St Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco on July 3, 2015 the resulting fire killed the pilot, another nurse, and nearly killed Repsher.
It didn’t have to be that way.
In the lawsuit, the owner and the manufacturer of the helicopter were found to be negligent for not retrofitting the helicopter with a crash-resistant fuel system. The settlement of $100 million also came with a promise to retrofit all helicopters of this vintage and make them safer for everyone, including nurses.
Highlighting unknown hazards
Nurses have to do their job every day in a workplace filled with hazards. Most of them are well known, such as sharps, infectious diseases, and freshly mopped floors. The most common injuries are musculoskeletal, caused by lifting patients. Hospitals recorded 6.8 injuries for every 100 full-time employees, a rate higher than in construction or manufacturing.
But like the unsafe fuel tank on the helicopter, there are always hazards which are not immediately known. There are always ways to take precautions and stay safe, but often the workplace itself has dangers which contribute to injuries.
Injured on the job
If you have been injured on the job as a nurse, you may be focusing on your own role in the accident. You certainly know it’s a dangerous job and you take it very seriously. But if a hazard which is not well known contributed to your injury, your colleagues might be at risk without knowing it. More than just your settlement, you have to think of safety.
It’s important to have a thorough review of all injuries on the job so that hidden risks can be exposed and fixed. It doesn’t have to be as severe as the faulty fuel systems on the helicopter to cause unnecessary pain and loss of work, either.
An attorney experienced in the unique challenges regarding workplace safety for nurses can be a good starting point to make sure that everything is uncovered and justice is served. Unknown hazards are often revealed by an incident, which is a terrible way to learn about them. Correcting them is an important step towards making nursing safer for everyone.