Emergency room staff is particularly prone to work injuries

Many people are injured in the healthcare industry every year. Emergency room staff face injuries resulting from falls and lifting to workplace violence.

On the topic of hazardous industries to work in, construction and law enforcement may be the first to come to mind. The healthcare industry may not even be on a person's radar. However, as many people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere do not realize, those employed in healthcare are working in one of America's most dangerous jobs. This is particularly true for those who work in emergency rooms and as first responders.

According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the healthcare industry has one of the highest workplace injury and illness rates in the nation. In 2010, there were 653,900 incidents of job-related illnesses and injuries among healthcare workers. More people are injured in the healthcare field than any other industry, in fact, and emergency room staff are among the most vulnerable employees.

Dangers that ER staff encounter on regular basis

The most common hazards facing emergency room workers include the following:

  • Falls, slips and trips
  • Strains and sprains from lifting patients and heavy equipment
  • Repetitive movement disorders
  • Illness and injury from bloodborne pathogens, chemical and drug exposure, biohazards and radioactive exposure
  • Emotional stress and verbal abuse from patients or superiors
  • Violence in the workplace

Workplace violence is a particularly concerning and prevalent issue affecting emergency workers across the country. According to Medscape, many people go into the healthcare field without realizing the scope of workplace violence. In fact, healthcare is said to be the most violent industry in the U.S., after law enforcement.

How is this so? Emergency room workers may be subjected to violence from patients or family members who are injured, frightened or angry at a prognosis or treatment. They may experience assault or sexual harassment at the hands of a co-worker or superior. In a recent study, 78 percent of physicians who work in emergency rooms said they had experienced workplace violence in the past year. Also, 82.1 percent of ER nurses said they had been physically assaulted during the past year, and 100 percent of them said they were victims of verbal abuse.

A tragic incident that occurred in January 2015 at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, drove home this point. A surgeon was fatally shot by the son of a patient, after the patient had passed away.

There are many safety procedures in place that are meant to protect those who work in dangerous situations. However, not every accident can be prevented, especially in an industry that is known for workplace violence. Those who are injured on the job may wish to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney in Pottsville to protect their rights.