If you answered “agriculture” or “construction,” you may be a little out of date. The new risk leader is health care. Nurses, nurse practitioners, medical aides, and even clinic office workers face steady or increasing risks on the job. At the same time, the demand for health care as the U.S. population grows older means that more and more workers are moving into this industry, exposing them to on-the-job injuries.
The upshot: nonfatal injury and illness rates are higher for healthcare workers than for almost any other type of job.
Nurses, listen up! This is about you
Although risks are elevated for all healthcare workers, nurses are on the front lines for workplace injuries. Among the risks these employees face on a daily basis, these are some of the leading hazards for Pennsylvania health workers:
- Back injuries. Hospitals, in particular, are notorious for causing chronic backaches among the staff, most of whom are assigned to lift or move patients or heavy objects on a regular basis. The result? Strains, sprains, ruptured discs, pinched nerves, and other serious back injuries.
- Needlestick accidents. Despite all the precautions taken with “sharps” in the clinic or hospital setting, healthcare workers are regularly at risk from cuts and scratches from contaminated needles and blades.
- Falls. Hospitals try to keep floors clean and disinfected, but that can mean slick surfaces that pose a risk for slipping and falling. Even administrative workers who perform support and data-entry work must deal with the hazard of computer and power cables in an office setting.
- Repetitive stress injuries. Now that most medical records are computerized, the constant task of data entry may contribute to carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndromes for medical staff. Many hospital and clinic tasks also require repeated movements or unnatural body positions that, over time, can cause severe musculoskeletal damage.
- Occupational disease. Health care occupations require regular contact with people who have infectious diseases. Some of these infections are uniquely dangerous because they resist conventional treatment with antibiotics.
What to do if you’re a healthcare worker injured on the job
It strikes us as fundamentally unjust when someone whose job is dedicated to relieving the pain of others is hurt in the course of her work. Fortunately, workers’ compensation laws in Pennsylvania protect health care professionals. Those laws guarantee that an employee who suffers an occupational illness or an accident on the job will receive coverage for medical expenses and partial payment of lost wages.
Sadly, some clinics and hospitals choose to fight legitimate claims in order to save money. Some nurses and health care aides decide to seek advice from an experienced Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorney when they face resistance to their Pennsylvania workers’ comp claim. Sometimes, that’s too late: the injured nurse may have already made a mistake that dooms her claim to fail.
Don’t make that mistake. Begin working with a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer from the start, to make sure that you follow all the legal requirements for your claim.
At Schmidt Kramer, our legal team has helped thousands of clients receive the compensation they deserve after a workplace injury. We’re prepared to help you file your claim, appeal a denied claim, and fight every step of the way to get you the benefits you deserve. Call us at 717.888.8888 or (717) 888-8888 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review. Just for calling, we will send you a FREE copy of our book on workers’ compensation, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured At Work?