Report: Healthcare Worker Injuries Among the Highest
A new article published by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) indicates that the healthcare industry has more on-the-job injuries than most professions. In fact, hundreds of thousands of lost-time injuries cost the industry $13.1 billion and over two million workdays in 2011. The breakdown of injuries is as follows: hospital worker injuries cost more than $6.1 billion, nursing and residential care worker injuries cost $4.8 billion and ambulatory health worker injuries cost $2.1 billion.
Among the facilities that make up healthcare, nursing homes recorded the highest injury rates, with the most frequent being sprains, strains, and tears to the back, which are caused primarily due to overexertion from patient handling. Slips, trips and falls, violence and chemical exposure cause other injuries, with nurses being the workers who experience the highest rate of injury.
The feature article, “Safety Culture in Healthcare, The $13 Billion Case” in the ASSE’s October journal of Professional Safety, cites that healthcare worker injury rates are only lower than outdoor wilderness professions, such as commercial loggers and fisherman. Part of the issue stems from the fact that the focus of most safety programs within the healthcare industry is on patient safety.
The other challenge, according to the article, is that since there is only one Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector for every 59,000 covered employees across more than eight million worksites, few inspections have occurred in healthcare facilities. But, OSHA has begun to undergo changes to address occupational safety culture in healthcare facilities. In 2012, the agency began targeted inspections and regional and national emphasis programs, with additional inspections at nursing, residential and ambulatory care facilities scheduled in the near future.
The costs of healthcare worker safety not only cost employers but also eventually trickle down to patient medical bills. For example, the cost of injuries in hospitals in 2011 exceeded $6.1 million, which required additional patient billing to offset the expense. Similar scenarios are true in nursing and residential care facilities and ambulatory health. “The injury side of health-care costs has to be in there somewhere,” said Scott Harris, Ph.D., MSPH, author of the article.
At Caitlin-Morgan, we specialize in the insurance needs of healthcare facilities, including providing a portfolio of coverages that comprises of Workers Compensation insurance, for nursing home & assisted living facilities. Please give us a call at 877.226.1027 to discuss our programs.