Hospital Workplace – Safe Haven… Or Not?

Medical / First Aid

Hospitals are the places we go when we need physical healing and protection… unless you work there.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospitals are among the most dangerous places in the US to work. Even less safe than construction or manufacturing, two industries usually considered extremely hazardous.

If you work in the healthcare profession or have a friend or family member in the industry, this probably comes as no surprise. You are likely all too familiar with debilitating back issues, illnesses, sprains, pulled muscles, even broken bones experienced from working in a hospital or other healthcare facility.

Common Healthcare Workplace Incidents:

  • Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Illness from contagion and exposure to blood borne pathogens
  • Cuts and punctures
  • Patient violence

As the American public becomes more obese, they develop illnesses and disabilities requiring hospitalization and special medical care.
Healthcare providers are required to lift and move these larger patients, putting caretaker and patient at risk.

This growing trend comes at a time when hospitals and health care facilities are scrambling to fill positions. The result – greater physical strain on fewer employees like nurses and nursing aids.

Patient care, especially in an emergency situation, often happens in a fast-paced, reactionary environment rife with the opportunity for accidents involving slip and fall, as well as exposure to contagious or violent patients. And caregivers, by nature, tend to put the patient’s interests first, sometimes risking their own safety.

The Real Cost of Hospital Accidents

The financial implications to these workplace injuries are staggering. Not surprisingly, many of these injuries result in days or months away from work; an emotional and financial cost to the employee, the employer, and ultimately, the consumer.

  • Workers’ compensation
  • Lost wages
  • Medical costs
  • Temp staffing, overtime
  • Employee turnover costs

Workplace Safety Success

The good news is that since the initial study released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, awareness has risen and the rate of incidence has declined dramatically in approximately 25% of the safest reporting hospitals.*

  • More accurate recordkeeping – Diligently highlight strengths and weaknesses of the facility, and identify potential hazards.
  • OSHA signage compliance – Identify and sign potential high-risk areas.
  • Safe patient handling program – Implement lift equipment and policies, patient assessment tools and employee training.
  • Safety reminders – Post safety signs, reminding employees of safe lifting practices, biohazards, PPE and other required procedures for your facility. Break room safety posters and tools like digital safety scoreboards keep safety top-of-mind.

For more in-depth information on the initial report and effective programs, policies and procedures to reduce healthcare facility workplace injuries, visit www.osha.gov/dsg/hospitals.

References:
*Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annual Survey Summary Numbers and Rates, September 2013.
**Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Worker Safety in Hospitals…Caring for our Caregivers, Understanding the Problem.”


Author bioLaura Sandin is an experienced marketing consultant and successful entrepreneur who understands the need for practical solutions that address the challenges of today’s business environment. Writing is her passion, and her experience includes many industries from the east coast to the west.