Website spotlight: Healthcare workers top injury and illnesses list

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, February 10, 2012

Healthcare more dangerous than mining, construction

Their jobs revolve around helping people recover from injuries and illnesses, yet healthcare workers have the highest risk for injury themselves, surpassing nearly every industry--including mining, manufacturing, and construction.

According to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics on workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010, healthcare workers experienced an injury/illness incidence rate of 5.2 out of every 100 full-time workers, a number well ahead of the private construction sector (4.0), manufacturing (4.4), and natural resources and mining (3.7).

Specifically, healthcare injuries were broken down into the following sectors-out of these, nursing homes led the way in injuries:

  • Ambulatory healthcare services: 2.8
  • Hospitals: 7.0
  • Nursing and residential care facilities: 8.3

The reason for these elevated statistics is because in addition to some of the general musculoskeletal issues that almost every industry faces, healthcare also has to deal with unique hazards like needlesticks, says Bruce Cunha, RN, MS, COHN-S, manager of employee health and safety at Marshfield (WI) Clinic.

"We are as dangerous as any industry out there," Cunha says, "plus we have things they don't have. We have biological agents, we have bloodborne pathogens, we have radiation, and we have lasers. And then we have back injuries just like everyone else with lifting, pushing, and pulling."

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