6530,000 healthcare workers sustain injuries or fall ill every year, making the industry the most dangerous for workers, Medical News Today reveals. Indeed, healthcare workers are exposed to a myriad of health and safety risks while on the job. Musculoskeletal injuries (particularly back injuries), chemical and drug exposures, needlestick injuries, and bloodborne pathogens are some of the greatest causes of illness and injury among healthcare workers. It’s therefore important healthcare workers take steps to protect their health and safety and minimize risk of injury.

Avoiding airborne and bloodborne pathogens

Healthcare workers are typically exposed to bloodborne pathogens transmitted via patients’ body fluids or needlesticks, which increases their risk of bacterial and viral infections. It’s therefore important healthcare workers take steps to prevent exposure to pathogens. In particular, safety goggles, face shields, gowns, and gloves are essential pieces of personal protective equipment. Additionally, the hospital or medical facility must also minimize or eliminate infection-causing bacteria by implementing best practices like thorough cleaning and disinfecting instruments, hand hygiene, and using antiseptics and disinfectant before IV injections or surgical procedures. Healthcare workers should also be immunized against bloodborne or airborne pathogens like hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Preventing musculoskeletal injuries

More musculoskeletal injuries are sustained by healthcare workers (including nurses, orderlies, attendants, and nursing aides) than workers in any other industry. In fact, back injuries across the healthcare industry cost more $7 billion annually on average. Musculoskeletal injuries, typically affecting the muscles, joints, ligaments, or nerves, commonly take shape as muscle or tendon strain, bone fractures, ligament sprains, and tendonitis. They’re particularly common among healthcare workers who frequently lift infirm or immobile patients and/or transfer them between beds and wheelchairs. Healthcare workers can better protect themselves from musculoskeletal disorders by maintaining good form and posture when lifting patients (for instance, keeping knees bent and feet apart). Moreover, using assistive devices, such as, electronic hoists, slings, and slip sheers can further prevent injury and protect healthcare workers.

Next steps after sustaining an injury

Hospitals are no strangers to injury settlements and claims with birth injury, in particular, being a common occurrence. Around 1 in every 9,714 babies in the United States are born with a birth injury. While some birth injuries (either to the mother or infant) are unavoidable, many are caused by medical negligence. By consulting experienced lawyers, people who experience an injury caused by the negligence of another — whether that’s a mother who sustains a birth injury or a healthcare worker who sustains an injury at work — can win the financial compensation they deserve. Damages typically include past, present, and future medical costs, lost wages, emotional and physical pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life.

Workplace injury is a common problem in the healthcare industry. By taking steps to avoid injury while on the job and consulting an experienced attorney if an injury is sustained, healthcare workers can better protect their health and their legal rights.