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Health care workers suffer most job-related injuries

Georgia health care workers may take an interest in a report issued by a national advocacy nonprofit showing that health care workers sustain more workplace injuries and illnesses than workers in any other industry. According to the report, the workers' injuries could be traced to a limited number of inspections of health care facilities paired with a comparative lack of federal safety standards.

There were approximately 654,000 work-related illnesses and injuries reported among health care workers, 152,000 more than in the manufacturing sector, which is the next most afflicted industry. In spite of the fact that health care workers are injured at nearly twice the rate of construction workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration performs almost 20 times more inspections of construction sites than health care sites. One explanation for this is that the construction and manufacturing industries have more fatalities than the health care industry does.

OSHA officials have not responded directly to the report; however, in a statement made in 2010, the head of the agency acknowledged that safety problems in the health care industry needed to be addressed. The agency does not have a specific standard for measuring and reducing physical stress from work activities such as lifting patients and prolonged exertion of the hands. OSHA stated that it does not have the resources needed to move forward on addressing the pressing workplace safety and health hazards.

Health care and other workers who have become ill or injured as the result of workplace hazards may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. A skilled Georgia attorney with experience in workers' compensation cases may be able to advise an injured or ill employee. The attorney might negotiate with the employer and insurance company attorneys to secure benefits. In some cases, the attorney may suggest taking the case to court.

Source: USA Today, "In health care industry, who will keep workers safe?", Fatimah Waseem, August 03, 2013

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