According to the Massachusetts Nursing Association, healthcare workers in the Bay State are being injured at a notably higher rate than those in other states and other industries. The majority of these injuries are occurring because known solutions aren’t being implemented, or are being administered incorrectly. For example, although it is widely known in the industry that patient-handling equipment should be use to move patients from bed to wheelchair – or vice versa – many workers opt not to use the equipment. In some cases, this is a conscious decision, but in many cases, it is a result of inadequate employee training. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.
1,000 Healthcare Worker Injuries Reported Annually in Massachusetts
In a recent presentation by the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors, the department said that approximately 21,500 workdays are lost every year due to about 1,000 employee injuries. Despite these staggering numbers, only 44% of MA hospitals have patient-handling policies intended to prevent worker injuries. When asked why, more than 70% of employers said the most significant barrier to implementing such policies is lack of time.
According to Beth Piknick, a past president of the MA Nurses Association, the reluctance of hospitals to implement necessary safety procedures suggests the need for a legislative solution. And Piknick has personal experience, having suffered a career-ending injury over two decades ago. Since then, she has been advocating for improvements in patient-handling practices.
Unsafe Patient-Handling Practices to Blame for Thousands of Injuries
A statewide law requiring safe handling is currently pending before the legislature. The policies in the pending bill follow the recommended guidelines as outlined by DPH in its most recent report. “Implementing these policies and using this equipment will save millions of dollars and more thousands of lost work days for workers injured from unsafe patient handling practices,” Picknick said.
What Other Workplace Hazards Affect Healthcare Workers?
Patient-handling injuries aren’t the only hazards faced by healthcare workers. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants have the highest rates of injury, but any healthcare worker has a high risk of on-the-job injury. Potential hazards include:
- Biological hazards
- Chemical exposure
- Drug hazards
- Anesthetic gas exposure
- Ergonomic hazards
- Respiratory hazards
- Exposure to bloodborne pathogens
- X-ray hazards
In fact, according to OSHA, more workers are injured in the healthcare industry than any other. A total of 653,900 cases of injury and illness were reported by the healthcare and social assistance industry in 2010. That is more than any other other private industry sector, and a whopping 152,000 cases more than manufacturing, the next highest industry sector.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Premier Workers’ Compensation Law Firm
At Altman & Altman, LLP, our legal team has been protecting the rights of workers for over 50 years. We can help you navigate the complex process of applying for workers’ comp benefits, and fight for additional benefits if negligence played a role in your injuries. The knowledgeable, experienced team at Altman & Altman, LLP will make sure that you understand your rights and options before moving forward. Our goal is to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. We can help to ensure that you get the highest benefits available to you, and that the process moves quickly. Call us today for a free consultation about your case.