Nurses and nursing assistants are the backbone of the healthcare industry. These caring individuals are dedicated to providing quality patient care in various settings.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of their work, healthcare employees are at a greater risk of on-the-job injuries.
Hazards in healthcare settings
We look upon hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes as sanctuaries of healing and patient safety. However, those who work in these environments are regularly exposed to hazards that can affect their well-being, including:
- Physical injuries due to lifting patients, prolonged standing and repetitive motions. Many healthcare workers have musculoskeletal disorders from constantly bending, twisting and providing care in close quarters.
- Chemical hazards pose significant risks to healthcare workers. The frequent use of cleaning agents can irritate the skin and respiratory system.
- Healthcare environments are a hotspot for infectious diseases. Employees risk exposure to airborne pathogens such as tuberculosis, influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). They are also at risk of contracting bloodborne diseases from accidental needlesticks.
- Work-related stress is a serious issue among healthcare workers. Long hours, inadequate staffing and combative patients can lead to anxiety, depression and burnout.
Healthcare institutions need to be aware of these hazards and take steps toward eliminating or mitigating them. Implementing comprehensive safety programs that include training, providing personal protective equipment and ensuring staff have the tools they need can help lower the risk of injury. Additionally, mental health support should be readily available to help workers cope with stress and burnout.
Still, even with protocols in place, accidents will happen. Employees injured on the job need to report the incident to their supervisors. They are also entitled to workers’ compensation that will cover the medical expenses associated with the workplace injury and provide income so that the employee can focus on recovery.