Although they work in an industry in which they take care of other people’s health, individuals who work in healthcare are at high risk themselves of obtaining some type of injury on the job. Throughout their day, healthcare workers come into contact with a variety of hazards.
Physical injuries are common in healthcare, although there is also exposure to other potential issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the most common injuries that healthcare workers experience are musculoskeletal ones. Hazards include moving heavy patients, repositioning patients from awkward positions and entering patient information into the computer. Common injuries include:
- Back strains and sprains
- Repetitive stress injuries
Chemical and infectious hazards
People who work in a variety of healthcare settings are often around sick patients, which puts them at risk of catching viruses, infections, bloodborne pathogens and other infectious agents. There are numerous chemical hazards, such as tissue specimen fixatives, medications and disinfectants. There are also medical instruments and supplies that can cause injuries.
Violence in the workplace
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplace violence is also common in the healthcare industry. There is verbal violence, such as hostility, threats, harassment and verbal abuse. These can also escalate into physical abuse, which can result in injuries such as bruises, cuts and fractures.
Patients are not the only ones who can incite violence. Other perpetrators include family members, visitors, intruders and coworkers. Risk factors include working with patients who have a drug problem or history of violence, poor lighting, working alone, working in areas with high crime rates, inadequate security and high employee turnover.