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Health Care Worker Injury

Based on the statistics provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), hospitals and other nursing facilities have the highest number of work-related injuries. The particular hazards that exist in hospitals host more work-related injuries than in the construction and manufacturing sector. Healthcare workers are exposed to violence, slips, trips, and falls (STF), contact with different machines and sharp objects, and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Healthcare workers are identified as employees in the healthcare industry providing their service as doctors, nurses, home care providers, paramedics, and other medical professionals who provide medical assistance to the masses. Health care workers operate in dangerous working spaces, usually understaffed to handle the daily load of medical cases. The work-related stress may induce mental or physical damage that may cause temporary or permanent disability. Under the State of California Workers Compensation laws, all employees in the healthcare industry are entitled to the compensations and benefits provided through a workers’ compensation claim.

Our experienced staff has the knowledge to handle workers’ compensation claims for employees in the health industry. We understand the hazardous working conditions that exist in hospitals and other nursing facilities which is why we are determined to satisfy your worker's compensation claim. Our attorneys understand the strenuous situations that arise after a work-related injury which is why we provide guidance through every step of the way. We ensure our clients are assisted in the filing process so you receive the benefits you deserve.

If you are a healthcare professional suffering from a work-related injury and you are seeking to file a workers’ compensation claim, please contact our attorneys at 949-423-3212 or you may visit our office at 505 N Tustin Ave #103, Santa Ana, CA 92705. We are ready to provide you with the laws that guide your case so that you make the most out of your workers’ compensation claim.

Health Care Worker Injuries Covered by Workers Compensation

The factors contributing to potential life-altering conditions in a hospital or other nursing environments are sometimes due to employer negligence, the type of patients entering the hospital, and other miscellaneous hazards that occur from constant contact with sharp objects. According to OSHA, health care employees are exposed to factors which may cause the following injuries.

  • Sprains and strains amounted to 54% of all hospital injuries. Nurse and other healthcare workers are tasked with transferring patients from bed to bed or from bed to restroom or any other location. Transferring (lifting and moving) patients without having the proper strength or support to lift another person's body can result in back pain and other MSD.
  • Damaged tissue in the spinal cord which may cause movement complications. This is a result of lifting and moving patients around the facility,
  • Damaged or broken bones as a result of violence in the workplace. Health care employers are in contact with people with different backgrounds and creed which exposes them to individuals who may be violent or aggressive.
  • Damage to the brain resulting from slips, trips, and falls (STF). Bodily fluids and other liquids can cause slip accidents which may damage different parts of the body including the head which may lead to serious consequences.
  • Airborne viruses and germs can infect nurses and make them temporarily sick. Health care workers in contact with bodily fluids may be exposed to infections and illnesses.
  • HIV/AIDS or other bloodborne diseases like hepatitis C virus (HCV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be spread through contact with needles and other contaminated sharp objects.

Health care personnel work in environments where liquid spills are common and people of all grounds are welcomed. The mass amount of moving parts along with an understaffed hospital can lead to a variety of accidents which may cause employees life-altering mental and physical injuries.

In the state of California, health care workers have two options to file for compensation claims in the event of a work-related injury. Health care workers are capable of pursuing a workers’ compensation claim where their medical and disability benefits are fixed so that you receive a timely compensation benefits package. On the other hand, healthcare workers have the opportunity to file a lawsuit against a third party. There are many factors in a hospital that can lead to your injury meaning that you may have a claim where different parties are reliable for your injury. In cases where different factors contributed to your work-related injury, you are capable of pursuing third-party compensations if you can provide proof of third-party fault. 

Workers compensation and Healthcare Workers

Under the California Workers Compensation Law, employees can file a workers’ compensation claim without the need to provide proof of employer liability. The no fault-system that guides the workers’ compensation principles provides an efficient way for employees to gain access to immediate compensation in the event of a work-related injury.

Employees suffering from work-related injuries are able to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensations laws ensure that employers provide their employees with disability and medical insurance in the event of a work-related injury. In the state of California, all employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance even if the number of employees is equal to one.

If you slip and fall during working hours or you injure yourself as a result of other work-related factors, you are entitled to:

  • Medical benefits: medical benefits cover the costs of all medical bills and treatment. In many cases, you are allowed to have access to your personal doctor who can provide a written evaluation of your health.
  • Disability Insurance: disability benefits are monetary compensations for employees who are unable to perform the job duties and must take days off for recovery. Disability insurance provides 2/3rds of your wage in a biweekly payment system. During your recovery period, you should be free from financial stress
  • Permanent disability settlement: a permanent disability settlement will ensure that employees with a long-term disability receive a much larger compensation.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation: If your work-related injury has left you permanently disabled you may receive vocational rehabilitation (job training) so that you may perform other duties around the workplace.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

The most common injuries in the health industry result from performing physically strenuous tasks which cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or from slipping or falling which can lead to broken bones or other injuries.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) occur to employees who are outperforming their body’s own rehabilitation and repair system. Nurses, doctors, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals endure long shifts where they perform different clerical and medical tasks. Over time a healthcare professional may develop:

  • A repetitive stress injury (RSI): carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), tendonitis, cubicle tunnel syndrome
  • Back pain and spinal cord tissue damage
  • Tension neck syndrome

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) explains that sprains and strains amounted to 54% of all injuries recorded in 2011. Nurse, nurse assistants, and other attendants in charge of handling patients have reported the most musculoskeletal disorders claims. To address the claims made by health care professionals and the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims in the health industry, OSHA has provided protocols and regulations so that healthcare facilities are working to create a safe environment for all individuals.

Developing an MSD can lead to short and long-term complications that may prevent you from performing certain tasks. People with musculoskeletal disorders can qualify to pursue reasonable accommodations from their employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Slips, Trips and Falls (STF)

Slip, trip, and fall injuries can result in various injuries that can damage the head, the knees, ankles, and feet. Suffering from an STF injury can result in temporary or permanent disability where an employee can claim reasonable accommodations at the workplace. These accommodations and benefits continue throughout your disability until your recovery. Employers cannot discriminate against employees with existing conditions and conditions that developed as a result of work stress.

If you become disabled while performing a job-related task that leads to a mental or physical incapacitation you are entitled to file a workers' compensations claim and receive reasonable accommodations if you choose to work throughout your recovery.

Fair Employment and Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act  

The Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act establishes that temporary or permanently disabled employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Aside from providing protection against discrimination, the FEHA and ADA established that all employers have the responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Denying reasonable accommodations for disabled employees can prevent them from performing the tasks under their scope of employment and is considered a form of discrimination.

Under FEHA and ADA disabled employees are entitled to the following reasonable accommodations:

  • The ability to leave work and be absent. Disabled employees have regular muscle or mental rehabilitation programs that they must attend. Your employer cannot keep you from your recovery program. In many cases, you will need to find a working schedule that works for you and your employer.
  • The freedom to take breaks when needed. Disabled people such as those suffering from back pains or carpal tunnel syndrome may require additional breaks from work so that stress levels are kept low.
  • The ability to request ergonomics equipment to alleviate the disability. This may include proper chairs or other equipment that aims to reduce physical stress.

Employees have the obligation to provide the accommodations above unless they can prove that the financial burden on the company would cause instability to the business structure. Most times your employer has the opportunity to act in good faith before you feel obligated to pursue a claim.

OSHA Safety and Health Program

OSHA has been working to provide all healthcare workers in the United States with safe working conditions by implementing workplace regulations and establishing safe work habits. Osha believes that a strong management system, a hazard prevention and control program, and scheduled workplace inspections can result in safer working environments.

OSHA encourages employers to:

  • Provide training to employees on injury prevention and training on proper lifting techniques. Employees should be trained to reposition, lift, and transfer patients with proper lifting techniques or with patient lifting equipment.
  • Provide frequent inspections of workplace conditions so that hazards can be found and addressed. Employees are encouraged to report hazards to management.
  • Provide a safety program in the workplace so employees understand how to handle a work-related hazard or dangerous situation.
  • Create a tracking program for all accidents that occur in the workplace to determine work-related injury patterns and provide effective solutions.
  • Provide ergonomics professionals who can provide continuous training on the potential risks factors that exist in the workplace. The trainer should be specifically able to provide lifting guidelines so to prevent sprain and strain injuries.

Ergonomics and Safe Patient Handling and Movement

In addition to following the guidelines established above, employer and employees are encouraged to practice and enforce ergonomics safety techniques. Ergonomics is the art of placing the worker to the right type of operation. Placing a physically disabled person or a person with a low body mass to perform a task that involves physical strength goes against the principles of ergonomics.

Ergonomics takes into account how different equipment can be used so to lift heavy objects. The purpose of training employees to use different equipment goes a long way in protecting employees from work-related stress.

To learn more about Ergonomics and proper Safe Patient Handling and Movements please visit www.osha.gov/ergonomics/guidelines/nursinghome/final_nh_guidelines.html. Here you will find safe working habits and other guidelines for nursing and other healthcare facilities.

Companies in the health industry have developed strong connections with the OSHA safety regulations so that all employees are guaranteed a safe working environment. Despite the efforts by healthcare companies to reduce work-related injuries, hospitals and other nursing facilities house factors that go unchecked due to understaffing and due to the fast-paced and high alert working environment. Healthcare employees who are hurt as a result of the working environment are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and reasonable accommodations from their employer.

Health care workers who are filing a workers’ compensation claim or facing other legal issues can contact Orange County Workers Compensation Attorney at 949-423-3212, to determine the most proper course of action for your case. Our attorneys are ready to provide you with professional support and legal guidance.

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