Workplace injuries cost healthcare industry billions

Healthcare workers had the highest injury rates of almost any industry in the country in 2011, costing the industry $13.1 billion and more than 2 million lost workdays, according to a new report published in the American Society of Safety Engineers' Professional Safety journal.

"Healthcare worker injury rates are only less than outdoor wilderness professions, such as commercial loggers and fishermen. The injury rates are sky high," said report author Scott Harris, Ph.D., MSPH, the director of EHS advisory services for UL Workplace Health and Safety in Franklin, Tenn., an article by Risk & Insurance.

The report found 15.2 million employees were injured across tens of thousands of work sites. Sprains and strains were the most common types of injuries with more than 16,000 reported in each category at nursing and residential care facilities, costing more than $983 million and $1.1 billion in total losses from days away from work respectively. Slips, trips and falls, violence and chemical exposure are the most frequent injuries among healthcare workers with nurses experiencing the highest rates.

Statistics found hospital injuries most frequently occurred:

  • In female employees with more than 5 years on the job;
  • In employees who were between the ages of 45- to 54-years-old;
  • Within two to four hours on duty; and
  • On Tuesdays between 12:01 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Harris said the data should be a wakeup call for the healthcare industry and an opportunity to change its poor safety culture. The report said hospitals would benefit from more rigorous and frequent inspections from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Another report that links quality patient care directly to healthcare worker safety said the healthcare sector has an injury and illness rate of 5.6 per 100 full-time workers compared with 4.2 for all of the private sector, FierceHealthcare previously reported. To keep workers feeling safe, the report suggested hospitals create a culture of continuous learning, teamwork and transparency.

To learn more:
- read the report
- check out the article