The Most Dangerous Place for Workers May Be a Hospital

If you were to get hurt, your local hospital is probably the very first place you’d go. But while hospitals may be safe for patients, a recent report suggests that hospitals are not so safe for the people who work there. In fact, the report found that hospital workers, including nurses, nursing assistants, attendants, and orderlies, were more likely to suffer a musculoskeletal injury than workers in any other field. When there are so many seemingly more dangerous professions out there, it doesn’t make sense that hospital workers lead in injuries.

The Importance of Inspections

One reason for the comparatively high injury rate for hospital workers may be the low number of safety inspections for these facilities. Though hospitals are required to be thoroughly inspected regularly, inspections don’t always happen as often as they should. In 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted only 2,504 inspections of hospitals. There were a whopping 176,380 hospital and related workplace injuries that year. In comparison, the construction sector received 52,179 inspections in 2010, and reported 74,950 injuries.

Inspections are what let hospitals know what they’re doing well and what needs improvement in order to create a safer work environment. Hospital administrators are encouraged to make sure that their facilities receive the required number of inspections per year, even if doing so means being proactive and vocal about making those inspections happen.

Is There an Ergonomic Explanation?

one nurse consoling anotherWhile some may blame the lack of workplace inspections for the increased number of on-the-job hospital  injuries, others say that the non-ergonomic-friendly nature of hospital work is what leads to so many injuries. Hospital employees often have to perform the same repetitive motions over long shifts. Hospital workers regularly move heavy patients and equipment.  And the majority of hospital workers are on their feet all the time. These activities may all be factors in injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated discs and low back pain.

Tips from OSHA

It may take a paradigm shift in the workplace safety attitudes  to bring about changes  that will make the jobs of hospital workers safer. In the meantime, there are several things these facilities can do to increase workplace safety. OSHA encourages hospital workers to follow safety protocols already in place, even if those protocols are not strongly enforced. Other tips include always using aids for lifting and moving patients and heavy equipment, and always reporting workplace injuries as soon as they occur.