The dangers of being a patient in a hospital have been widely reported, making headlines on television, in print and online. Unfortunately, the dangers of working in a hospital are not as well known to the public. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of hospital employees' illnesses and injuries is twice that of private sector employees.
Hospitals are large institutions with a broad range of occupations and departments, all with their own hazards. Health care workers are not the only ones at risk for injuries and illnesses; all hospital employees are exposed to dangerous working conditions every day.
Some of the most common hazards of hospital work are:
- Slipping and falling on wet or uneven surfaces, over wires and medical tubes, and in stairways
- Exposure to blood-borne diseases
- Exposure to medical waste, radiation, anesthetic gas and other toxic chemicals
- Assaults committed by patients
- Repetitive lifting and bending tasks
- Poorly maintained indoor and outdoor grounds, including parking garages
- Emotional and mental stress
- Long shifts
- Inadequate staffing
While it's true that all hospital workers face risks, those who directly handle patients are at the greatest risk for certain injuries such as musculoskeletal injuries to the back, shoulders, arms and hands. Back sprains and strains, herniated disks and carpal tunnel syndrome are all too common in nurses, orderlies and attendants.
For injured hospital workers, getting adequate workers' compensation can be a struggle. Despite being in the health care industry, hospitals can behave like any other employer. When their employees suffer work injuries and illnesses, hospitals may fight to deny workers' comp claims and fail to give employees time to get well.
If you suffer a traumatic or repetitive stress injury or contract an occupational disease, you have the right to workers' compensation benefits. Talking with a lawyer is an important step in understanding your rights and options. Workers' compensation attorneys fight back when employers deny claims and don't treat workers fairly.