Most residents of Pennsylvania do not consider healthcare workers to be at a greater risk for workplace injury. But according to the U.S. Department of Labor, that assumption would be wrong. In its annual report on workplace injury and illness, the department revealed that healthcare workers are highly susceptible to both injury and illness. The data was alarming.
In the words of the labor secretary: "We remain concerned that more workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than in any other, including construction and manufacturing." She went on to say that, with 5.2 cases for every 100 workers, the healthcare industry had one of the highest rates of injuries and illness in 2010. The rate of 5.2 is especially alarming when considering that the rate for all private industry workers is 3.5 cases for every 100 workers. Statistics show that other major industries such as mining, construction and manufacturing actually had much lower rates in 2010 than healthcare and social assistance did on a national level.
Surprisingly, workplace injury appears to account for the spike in numbers, as workplace illness in the healthcare industry last year was regarded as low. Common types of workplace injury for healthcare workers include back strains, trips, slips and needle-sticks. Back strain is reported to account for about one-third of these work injury cases.
For many of those injured, medical assistance is provided by the immediate staff or through healthcare insurance. However, a lot of lower-paid employees do not have access to medical insurance and often have to rely on workers' compensation. For Pennsylvania workers who are faced with such a predicament, looking into all the available options would be a solid step toward securing due compensation.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Health care workers at serious risk of injury on the job," Sean D. Hamill, Dec 5, 2011