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Study shows surprising injury rate among healthcare workers

In a place like New York City with millions of residents, the healthcare industry is incredibly important. While doctors, nurses, aides and other medical staff provide critical support to ill or injured New Yorkers, safety officials may be overlooking the risk of injury among healthcare employees themselves.

According to a recently released report, medical personnel sustain more "musculoskeletal injuries" than any other field. Specifically, "nurses, nurses' aides, orderlies, and attendants" face the greatest risk of becoming injured on the job. What could be the explanation for so many workplace injuries in an industry focused on health?

Some observers suggest that the high rate of injured workers in the healthcare industry is the relatively low rate of safety inspections. Safety officials typically pay the most attention to sectors with the most serious injuries, such as construction. As such, it may be the case that the focus of safety investigations and enforcement is too narrow. Rather than simply responding to the most serious concerns, agencies  -- such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration -- should look at a broad range of criteria for inspections.

In addition to more on-site investigations in the healthcare industry, it's also been suggested that better training may be necessary. Nurses and aides are often responsible for handling or moving patients, so they should be provided the training or equipment needed to do so safely.

Even though there may be a deficit of safety investigations as compared to other professional fields, healthcare employees are entitled to the same standard of safety and protections as other workers. As such, appropriate measures should be taken to support injured employees and prevent future incidents.

Source: MedPage Today, "Workplace May Be Unsafe for Healthcare Professionals," Cole Petrochko, July 19, 2013

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