Nursing homes have extremely high rates of workplace injury

This article looks at why nursing homes have an extremely high rate of workplace violence and injury.

When people think of dangerous professions, their first thoughts often turn to jobs that are typically viewed as hazardous, such as those in the agriculture, forestry, or construction industries. Indeed, at Silverman, Silverman, & Seligman, P.C., many of our clients come precisely from these industries. However, many people overlook the fact that one of the most dangerous places in which to work is a nursing home. While working with primarily elderly patients may not sound dangerous, the fact is, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), that those working in nursing homes and personal care facilities have some of the highest work-related injury rates of any profession.

Workplace safety in nursing homes

Those statistics show that the rate of serious workplace injuries or illnesses that required a day off were well over twice the average for nursing homes than for other workplaces. The lost workday injury and illness (LWDII) rate for nursing homes was 4.9, whereas the average for the private industry is 1.8.

Risks, especially for nurses, include exposure to many dangerous substances, including illnesses, biological hazards, drugs, chemicals, anesthetic gas, bloodborne pathogens, and more. Additionally, nurses often suffer injuries from heavy lifting and repetitive motions, radioactive material, laser hazards, and more.

Workplace violence a leading risk

In both nursing homes and the healthcare industry in general, workplace violence is a particularly prevalent risk. OSHA statistics show that between 2002 and 2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents was four times higher in healthcare workplaces than in private industries.

For nursing homes, violence often comes from the patients themselves, many of whom may suffer from mental disabilities or be suffering the side effects of medication. For example, as The Denver Post recently reported, a nursing home in Colorado was fined $9,000 because Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) there suffered many violent incidents enacted against them by residents, including "punches, kicks, and forceful grabs." The incidents led to broken skin, bruises, soft tissue trauma, bites, sprains, scratches, and head and torso injuries.

While residents may occasionally be violent, there are ways that nursing home employers can reduce the risk of workplace violence to their employees. In fact, many violent incidents are the result of nursing staff being overworked, understaffed, or improperly trained as to how to deal with violent residents.

Representing injured workers

Whether an injury or illness occurs at a nursing home or another workplace, injured workers should know that they have a place to turn to for help. The attorneys at Silverman, Silverman, & Seligman have a long track record representing those who have been hurt on the job. With such aggressive and knowledgeable representation, injured workers stand a much greater chance of receiving the full compensation that they may ultimately be entitled to.