Nurses in Maryland may be interested to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced plans to crack down on safety practices in the health care industry. Every year, more health care workers incur reported workplace injuries than workers of any other general industry.
The move by OSHA comes on the heels of nurse injury reports reaching almost epidemic proportions. The agency plans to audit health care facilities, investigate and fine hospitals and nursing homes that do not have adequate safety measures in place.
Many health care workers receive musculoskeletal injuries from lifting patients and contract workplace illnesses due to exposure to blood borne pathogens and other contagious diseases. Others are injured due to violence in the workplace or by slipping and falling on slick floors. While the non-fatal injury and illness incidence rate for other industries is around 3.4, the one for the health care industry averages around 7.6 in nursing homes and 6.6 in hospitals, worse than those even for workers in such professions as oil and gas and construction.
Those involved in the health care industry may be able to seek compensation when they suffer workplace injuries through their employer's workers' compensation program. Nurses who are injured after lifting a patient may thus want to file a claim for benefits with their employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. Benefits may be available to provide the necessary medical care and treatment as well as a percentage of wages lost during the recovery period when the victim is unable to work. An attorney who has experience in this area might be of assistance in the preparation and filing of the claim as well as in any subsequent appeal should the claim be denied.