Studies have shown that one of the most dangerous jobs to have in the United States today is a job where you’re dedicated to helping others who are hurt and suffering from accidents and injuries: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of all occupational illnesses and injuries happening to American workers that were serious enough that they had to miss work happened to these five jobs:
- nursing aides and orderlies and attendants;
- janitors and cleaners;
- heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; and
- police officers and sheriff’s patrol officers.
What’s going on? According to the Centers for Disease Control (a part of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), those who work in the health care industry are faced with unique conditions and situations which contribute to their risk for injury and illness. From the CDC:
Workers in the Healthcare and Social Assistance (HCSA) sector are potentially exposed to a wide range of health and safety hazards including infectious, chemical, and physical agents; sprains and strains associated with lifting and repetitive tasks; workplace stress, workplace violence; and risks associated with changing organization of work. Although it is possible to prevent or reduce worker exposure to these hazards, workers in the HCSA sector are experiencing higher rates of illness and injury as compared to all private industry.
The Department of Labor for the State of Indiana Responds to Dangers of Working in the Indiana Health Care Industry With New Worker Protections
Today, the Indiana Department of Labor announced that after considering the dangers that Hoosiers working in various parts of the health care industry in Indiana are facing each work day, that the State of Indiana will be instituting a new State-Wide Initiative to Reduce the High Rate of Worker Injury and Illness in the Indiana Health Care Industry.
“All Hoosier workers deserve the safest working environment possible,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Sean M. Keefer. “The Indiana Department of Labor is reaching out to healthcare industry employers and employees and encouraging them to take a proactive role in making employee safety and health a top priority.”
- Musculoskeletal disorders – Sprains, strains and tears most commonly affecting the back, neck and shoulder. These injuries are usually caused by improper patient handling\lifting and repetitive stress.
- Slip, trip and fall hazards – Most often attributed to patient handling issues and during facility cleaning and maintenance.
- Workplace violence – Defined as threats of violence or physical violence against an employee by a patient, visitor or another employee
- Exposure to blood borne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials – Accidental needle sticks and cuts by medical instruments. Also, exposure to human blood and waste products
- Exposure to drug resistant diseases – Hospitals and extended care facilities have higher rates of exposure to MRSA and other multi-drug resistant infections.
- Exposure to Tuberculosis (TB) – Tuberculosis is significantly more common in nursing homes and extended care facilities. Workers in those environments are much more likely to contract the disease.
- Chemical and material safety issue – Exposure to strong disinfectants and cleaners.
Starting today, the state government is working to make it safer to work in health care environments and undoubtedly, new state standards will result. However, these actions will come from the executive and legislative areas of government — and for many companies that operate for a profit (as many health care facilities do these days), the sad reality is that safer work environments for many health care workers will happen through the judicial branch, where their bottom line profits are directly impacted by slip and fall claims; personal injury claims; workers’ compensation suits and the like.