An estimated 18 million people work in the U.S. health care industry. Every day, health care workers help save lives. They may treat patients for illnesses, help them recuperate through therapy, provide emotional support and the nutrition they need.
But working in health care facilities is not without its risks as numerous job hazards exist. The list includes back injuries from lifting or restraining patients, exposure to chemicals and hazardous drugs, job-related stress, and violence from patients.
Common events that lead to injury
Doctors, nurses, paramedics, aides, technicians, social workers and dieticians are all susceptible to workplace injuries. The list of injuries sustained by health care workers is a long one.
Among the most common are sprains and strains, bruises, soreness/pain, fractures, lacerations and punctures, infections and multiple trauma such as a head injury and damage to internal organs.
Here are the most common events that lead to health care worker injuries:
- Overexertion: Lifting a patient can cause back strain and other injuries.
- Slips, trips and falls: These accidents can occur on slippery floors and walkways. That's why it's crucial to be vigilant as to where you're walking, and to wear dependable footwear.
- Contact with objects: A puncture from a needle or knife can lead to harm.
- Violence: Some patients may be unpredictable, unruly and violent. Their actions always put health care workers in danger.
- Exposure to substances: The health care facility stores hazardous chemicals and drugs that can lead to serious injury if not handled properly.
Safety Awareness, Training Are Vital
It's important that health care workers are aware of the job hazards, and that their employer provide safety training.
Health care workers are a vital part of the industry. They often are the ones who have first contact with patients who are ill, need assistance or are extremely violent. Any of these scenarios can lead to a serious injury to a doctor, nurse, aide or paramedic.