Health Workers Have Most Dangerous Jobs in U.S.
While construction workers and commercial fisherman often receive more press about the dangers inherent in their respective fields, a report just released by Public Citizen reveals that healthcare workers may have the most unsafe workplace conditions in the country.
The report, written by the organization’s Congress Watch division, claims that healthcare workers suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than workers in any other field and that adds up to a bill of some $7 billion annually.
The high injury rate is particularly prevalent among nurses, orderlies, nurses’ aides and attendants. The report suggests that there may be more injuries in the healthcare industry because there are less government inspections of healthcare and social assistance facilities.
The authors of the study drew that conclusion after comparing the number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections that had been carried out at construction sites as opposed to health care facilities in 2010.
That year, there were 9.1 million workers in the construction field and there were 74,950 reported injuries. All told, OSHA inspected 52,179 construction sites in 2010. That same year, the healthcare industry employed over twice as many workers and 176,000 worker injuries were reported. Yet OSHA only conducted 2,504 inspections of health care facilities.
The report suggests the reason for the discrepancy may be due to the fact that there were far more fatalities in the construction industry. In 2010, 774 construction-related deaths were reported, while only 141 fatalities were reported in healthcare workplace settings.
The authors suggest that OSHA needs to increase the number of inspections at healthcare facilities and that new legislation should be implemented to protect workers — especially given the added burdens the healthcare industry will face as more baby boomers require nursing and living assistance in the future.
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