If you were to ask the average person about the risks involved in hospital work, they might talk about scheduling. Many hospital workers, ranging from physicians to phlebotomists, will work 12-hour shifts.
They may have to work alternating weekends and holidays. There will also be times when they are on call in case additional staffing is necessary in their department. Those scheduling challenges can certainly affect someone’s health by increasing their stress levels and making it harder for them to get adequate rest.
However, the biggest safety concerns in a hospital setting have to do with risk factors that lead to workers getting injured. According to federal workplace injury statistics, hospitals are more dangerous than even construction sites as far as the number of workers that get hurt each year. What are the biggest risk factors in the hospital setting?
1. Overexertion, often due to lifting
Patient care is incredibly demanding. Someone might require help taking medicine, feeding themselves and going to the bathroom. Occasionally, patients end up in emergency situations, such as when they fall and get hurt.
Workers can easily overexert themselves while caring for patients. Injuries to knees and other joints, as well as back injuries, often result from overexertion. Such injuries account for roughly half of all lost time incidents in hospitals.
2. Slips, trips and falls
The need to quickly get from patient to patient or to respond as rapidly as possible following an emergency can lead to people getting hurt. Hospitals may have dirty floors or spilled coffee near family waiting rooms that lead to someone falling and getting hurt.
In some hospitals, workers could be at additional risk if they slip and fall down stairs rather than simply falling at the same level. Slips, trips and falls are responsible for 25% of hospital worker injuries.
3. Dangerous objects and materials
Those who work in hospitals have exposure to numerous dangerous items and pieces of equipment. If you touch the wrong spot when someone else uses an external defibrillator, you could experience a severe electrical shock that leads to a medical emergency. An accidental prick with the needle could expose you to dangerous chemicals or the bodily fluids of someone with an infectious disease.
Accidental contact with dangerous objects or materials in a hospital setting accounts for another 17% of worker injuries that lead to three in hospitals. People can also get hurt because of violence.
Regardless of how a nurse or other medical professional gets hurt in a hospital, they may want to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. The benefits available can cover their treatment costs and replace their wages until they can return to work. Learning more about the benefits available after a workplace injury can help those in high-risk job environments.