For many, working in the healthcare field brings great advantages – good health insurance, steady schedules, good pay, and satisfaction helping other people. To outsiders, the healthcare industry may seem entirely “safe,” but history has proven that that is not the case, there are many hazards that place healthcare workers in harm’s way on a daily basis.
Healthcare is not limited to hospitals, it is a broad term that deals with delivering health services to individuals in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, dental officers, birthing centers, pediatric offices, emergency medical care, nursing homes, out-patient surgery centers, and home healthcare.
WHAT HAZARDS DO HEALTHCARE WORKERS FACE?
By the nature of their work, healthcare workers are regularly faced with numerous health and safety hazards, such as:
- Drug exposures
- Chemical exposures (e.g. formaldehyde and paracetic acid used for sterilization)
- Bloodborne pathogens
- Biological hazards
- Respiratory hazards
- Laboratory hazards
- Laser hazards
- Aggressive patients
- Being exposed to X-rays and radioactive material
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), more workers are injured in the social assistance and healthcare sectors than any other industry. OSHA reports that the healthcare industry has one of the highest rates of work-related illness and injuries.
In 2010, for example, the healthcare industry had 653,900 cases – 152,000 more cases than manufacturing – a surprising number!
OSHA reports that in 2010, the incidence rate of nonfatal illnesses and injuries in healthcare and social assistance was 139.9. Compare that to the incidence rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in all private sectors being 107.7, and you can see how healthcare is a dangerous field for people to be employed in.
MORE THAN JUST DOCTORS ARE EXPOSED
According to OSHA, it’s not just doctors and nurses who are being exposed to hazards. In addition to the medical staff at a clinic or hospital, other workers are exposed to injuries and illnesses as well and they include: mechanical maintenance workers, housekeeping, food service workers, laundry workers, administrative staff, and building and grounds maintenance workers.
As someone who works in the healthcare field, you are entitled to work in a safe workplace. New York laws require that your employer provides you with a safe and healthful working environment.
If you have become injured or ill because of your occupation, we urge you to contact a New York workers’ compensation attorney at our firm, Katz, Leidman, Freund & Herman.