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Fractures and sprains are common injuries for caregivers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has compiled statistics indicating hospitals are among the most hazardous places for people to work. Nurses and other healthcare workers face unique circumstances in their duties that can lead to injury or illness.

OSHA notes that caregivers often feel they must put patient safety above everything else, even if in so doing, they put themselves at risk. This means they are more likely to suffer a variety of injuries on the job.

Common causes

Hospital and nursing facility workers must lift and reposition patients on a daily basis. They may work with patients who have contagious diseases or who have mental issues and could suddenly become violent. They must also work with and around devices and equipment that may be contaminated with pathogens. Workers in nursing facilities are especially vulnerable to injury because they deal with so many patients who are not mobile.

When caregivers miss work or have to take on modified duties as a result of a health issue or injury, the rate is known as Days Away, Restricted or Transferred, commonly referred to as DART. Data pulled from hospitals and nursing facilities in 2011 shows 58,860 cases of DART-related injury or illness.

Common injuries

Nurses and other caregivers must be ready to make instant decisions, especially during emergency situations. This may mean physically assisting an obese patient who has fallen, transferring a patient to or from a gurney or turning a disabled or otherwise immobilized patient. Sprains and strains account for most of the injuries on record, followed by bruises, fractures, soreness, multiple trauma, cuts and puncture wounds.

Getting compensation

To be eligible for workers' compensation in the state of Colorado, healthcare workers must answer two questions about the injury they sustained: Is this an on-the-job injury? Did it occur during the course and scope of the injured party's employment? The nature of healthcare work means that many injuries may satisfy these requirements. Anyone who is eligible stands to receive not only coverage for medical expenses but also compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and, if necessary, ongoing disability.

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