Workers in Massachusetts face many hazards but a new study reports that health care workers suffer workplace injuries and illnesses more often than workers in other industries. The study by Public Citizen reported that despite the increased risks health care workers face, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not do enough to protect health care workers.
The study said that OSHA does not perform enough safety inspections in health care facilities and they have not taken steps to reduce safety hazards in the workplace that cause many injuries and illnesses every year.
Health care workers are most likely to suffer musculoskeletal injuries like back and neck injuries. Health care workers like nursing aides, orderlies and staff who handle patients on a daily basis are most likely to be injured on the job, according to the study.
Due to the number of safety hazards health care workers face, 653,900 health care workers suffered workplace injuries in 2010. Despite the high number of workplace accidents and injuries that occur in the health care industry, OSHA inspects health care facilities less often than other industries like the construction and manufacturing industries.
OSHA is aware of the workplace safety issues health care workers face but said that they do not have the budget and other resources to create better standards right now. While it is up to OSHA to set safety standards that will protect workers, they rely on their budget to make sure they have the resources to execute safety standards and make sure they have enough inspectors to complete workplace safety inspections.
Public Citizen said that OSHA should receive more funding from Congress to help them address the safety issues health care workers face. However, it is unlikely that OSHA's budget will increase any time soon.
Regardless of OSHA's budget, it is up to employers to make sure their workplaces are safe and free from hazards. Health care workers should be aware of the risks they face while working. Workers who have suffered an injury or illness should consider filing a workers' compensation claim and consulting an attorney to make sure their rights are not being violated.
Source: EHS Today, "Health Care Workers Suffer Most Injuries, Have Few Federal Protections," Sandy Smith, July 18, 2013