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Report: Health care workers suffer most illnesses and injuries

According to a new report by the national advocacy group Public Citizen, health care workers suffer more illnesses and injuries related to their jobs than workers in other industries, but the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is relatively lax on health care facilities. The report states that OSHA has "broken its promise" to health care workers with safe work environments.

The report indicates that health care workers reported 653,900 workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010, which was about 152,000 more than the next leading industry, manufacturing. The report said that many find it surprising that health care workers are injured more frequently on the job than workers with more seemingly dangerous jobs, but many health care jobs are actually very strenuous on the body.

In fact, the report showed that musculoskeletal injuries are more common among nurses, nursing aides, orderlies and attendants than workers in any other field. It is estimated that these injuries cost more than $7 billion to treat per year, the report said. Additionally, it's one of the reasons many health care workers have to leave direct patient care.

OSHA has acknowledged that more safety regulations and inspections are needed within the health care industry, but it says it does not have the necessary resources to meet the needs. Sadly, until changes are made, people who have dedicated their lives to treating others will continue to face a heightened risk of injuries and illnesses on the job.

When workers suffer disabling injuries and conditions on the job and can no longer work, it may be possible for them to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. In order to qualify for SSD, the injured worker must have his or her condition properly documented by a health care provider and submit an application with the Social Security Administration.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Health care employees suffer more on-the-job injuries and illnesses than other workers," Sherry Jacobson, July 17, 2013

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