Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Being a nurse: health hazards at the workplace

In Maryland and throughout the United States, more than 18 million people work in the health care industry. With so many individuals working in this field, 80 percent of whom are women, it is vital that they have a work environment that promotes safety and health. Nurses face many challenges related to injuries and illnesses. In fact, health care professionals are nearly twice as likely to suffer a workplace injury than private industry employees.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, during 2011 nearly 254,000 reports were made regarding workplace illnesses and injuries for hospital employees. Infectious diseases, needle sticks, back pain and an exposure to allergy-causing materials and toxic substances were the most common work-related illnesses nurses experience. The most common injuries included overexertion, running into something and tripping.

Because contact with sharp objects and needle sticks can expose health care workers to blood-borne pathogens, they pose a great danger to health and safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 385,000 injuries from sharps occur yearly among nurses and other health care professionals working in hospitals. As a result, medical organizations are required by law to use safety caps with needles. Health care workers should also use caution when drawing blood from their patients, especially patients who have infectious diseases. Nurses who feel sleepy from working long shifts should use extra caution.

Nurses are exposed to many health risks at the workplace, and their employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment. A health care professional who suffers a workplace injury or illness has the right to file for workers' compensation benefits as an indemnity for work-related losses.

Source: Minority Nurse, "Workplace Health and Safety Tips for Nurses," Rachel Oliver, June 14, 2016

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