A career in the health care industry may seem safe in contrast to a more obviously dangerous job, such as construction or logging. However, just because the injuries look different does not mean they do not occur. Medical workers actually experience more injuries and illnesses than those in any other sector, according to OSHA. The causes are not only from equipment and tasks, but also from the unpredictable nature of your job. Being aware of the most common injuries for hospital workers can help you determine if a medical problem you have is due to your workplace and qualifies for workers' comp.
Sprains and strains
The biggest category of injuries is sprains and strains. Sprains can either be the result of slipping and falling or of repetitive stress that weakens your body (overexertion). Strains often come from lifting patients and heavy objects. The bending and lifting you do on the job would require mechanical assistance in any other industry, so it is no surprise that this injury is high for those who manually handle patients. In fact, hospitals spend the most money on workers' comp claims involving strains than other injury types.
Bruises and fractures
If you care for patients who have a high rate of exhibiting violence, you may end up experiencing severe physical harm. The damage ranges from bruises to broken bones. Slips, trips and falls also lead to bruises, fractures and other injuries. The risk of these increase with your age and workload.
Other common hospital injuries include the following:
- Wounds from contact with dangerous equipment
- Exposure to harmful substances and diseases
- Soreness and pain
- Cuts and punctures, such as from needles
It may seem that HIV would be one of the diseases you have a chance of acquiring, but the risk is nearly zero. According to the CDC, there have been fewer than 60 confirmed cases of occupational infection since 1985, only one of which was after 1999. The low numbers are due to strict regulations on handling needles and bodily fluids, wearing protective gear and seeking immediate medical attention after exposure to infected fluids. You are much more likely to suffer from a strain or other illness instead.
You also deserve proper treatment
Health care workers are known to be very selfless, often putting their safety below the safety of their patients. This may make you a caring person and employee, but it also makes you a vulnerable one. Do not ignore an injury you receive at work. Receive proper medical treatment and talk to a workers' compensation attorney on the next steps to take.