Massive Surge in Illness, Injury Among Health Care Workers

Health care and social workers combined for more injuries and illnesses than any other industry in the nation.

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor showed a staggering 249% increase in injurty and illness rates in 2020 for health care workers as they battled their way through the pandemic.1 Health care and social assistance workers combined for more injuries and illnesses than any other industry in the nation.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges health care employers, and those in related industries, to take immediate actions to help make 2022 safer for these workers.

“We recognize our caregivers for the extraordinary sacrifices they continue to make working on the frontline throughout the pandemic to keep us healthy and safe – and we owe it to them to ensure their employers are doing all they can to protect them,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Douglas Parker in a statement. “The dangers health care workers face continue to be of the highest concern and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still needed to protect them.”

OSHA is working to issue a final standard to protect health care workers from COVID-19. As the agency works towards a permanent regulatory solution, employers must continue to comply with their obligations under the General Duty Clause, the Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards, as well as other applicable OSHA standards to protect their employees against the hazard of COVID-19 in the workplace.

To combat workplace injury and illness most effectively, employers should create and use a proactive safety and health program that addresses hazards, training, and preventive measures to keep workers safe.

“Health care workers routinely face the risks associated with exposures to bloodborne pathogens, drug residue, X-ray machines, respiratory illness, and ergonomic injuries related to lifting patients and repetitive tasks,” said OSHA’s acting Regional Administrator Ryan Hodge in a statement. “Our nation’s caregivers have made extraordinary sacrifices in recent years – putting themselves on the frontline in a pandemic – and we owe it to them to ensure their employers are doing all they can to protect their employees.”

This article originally appeared on Medical Economics.

Reference

  1. Employer-reported workplace injuries and illnesses, 2020. News release; US Bureau of Labor Statistics. November 3, 2021. Accessed February 17, 2022. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.nr0.htm