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Risks for health care workers

The health care industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in both Louisiana and the rest of the United States. In the country, more than 18 million people are employed in the field, and almost 80 percent of those workers are women. Workplace injuries are a huge concern, and employers should make certain that they implement safety measures to reduce the risk of on-the-job accidents and injuries.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses in hospitals were reported in 2011 alone. For every 100 full-time employees, 6.8 percent incurred such injuries or illnesses.

People employed in providing direct care to patients had almost double the injury rate of people who were employed in the private industry. Risks for nurses include falling, overexertion injuries, needlesticks, suffering from infectious diseases and contacting toxic substances, among others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 358,000 needlesticks happen every year, bringing the potential for contracting diseases because of possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The CDC advises workers to be careful when using sharp objects. It also suggests that workers be provided with gloves other than those made out of latex to lessen the risk of allergic reactions.

When health care workers are injured on the job, they may be eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits under their employer's insurance coverage. It may be advisable for them to consult with an attorney at the outset of the process. An attorney can often help to ensure that the required claim contains all necessary information and is filed on a timely basis.

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