It is common knowledge in the health care industry that nurses and other health care professionals experience workplace injuries at a rate much higher than other occupations. In fact, recent Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the rate of on-the-job injury in hospital orderlies is significantly higher than the rate of workplace injury for firefighters. In fact, the rate of workplace injuries experienced by hospital orderlies and nursing assistants is almost double the rate experienced by firefighters.
Most of the workplace injuries experienced by health care professionals arise out of lifting and moving patients. What is frustrating about the number of injuries to health care professionals is that, by using lifting machines and thorough training, it is possible to reduce significantly the frequency of this type of workplace injury. One study showed a 40 percent reduction in lifting and moving injuries after installation of and training on special lifting equipment. Another study showed an 80 percent reduction in injuries as a result of specialized equipment and thorough training.
Due to a lack of legislation, hospitals are not required to implement the equipment or training to reduce the number of workplace injuries. The lack of legislation is not the result of a lack of trying. Industry groups representing nurses and other health care professionals have introduced and lobbied for a number of federal and state regulations aimed at reducing the number of workplace injuries for healthcare workers. Unfortunately, these efforts have been pushed back by the lobbying efforts of hospitals.
Workplace injuries for healthcare workers can significantly affect the injured worker’s quality of life. Many of the injuries occur in younger workers, which means these workers generally have to switch professions or retire much sooner than employees in other industries. If a healthcare professional experiences pain, injury, loss of income or other consequences resulting from a workplace injury, it may be beneficial to consult a workers’ compensation attorney.