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Health care workers may suffer numerous and costly injuries

There are a number of injuries that can happen on the job in Maryland, but a new report indicates that musculoskeletal injuries are among those costing the the most for employers and for employees who have been injured on the job. In some cases, this could be the fault of repetitive work or safety issues in the workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported that musculoskeletal injuries are the most common type of injury for workers in the health care sector. That includes people like nurses and residential care workers.

In 2012, it was found that workers in those fields suffered twice as many illness and injuries as construction workers. Muscle strains, tendonitis, lower back, and rotator cuff injuries are common for these workers.

What's the cause of so many of these injuries? The report states that it's likely due to having to manually lift and handle patients. Those injuries aren't all the health care workers have to face, though. Additionally, they may suffer from health and safety risks like biological hazards, workplace violence, chemical exposure, X-ray hazards, and bloodborne pathogens. In Maryland and several other states, safe patient-handling legislation has been passed to help reduce these risks.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has made an effort to help increase safety in the workplace by releasing information about common myths. You may have heard, for example, that it's faster to move patients manually. OSHA says that if there is lifting equipment nearby, the safe patient-handling equipment is potentially quicker. Mechanical lifts are also safer for patients and healthcare workers, the report states.

Employees who are hurt on the job deserve the compensation necessary for the medical care and time they need to heal. When workers' compensation isn't enough, they may be able to seek additional compensation from their employer.

Source: safety.BLR.com, "Back injuries in healthcare: A $20 billion problem," June 25, 2014

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