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OSHA offers new guidance around health care worker safety

The U.S. Department of Labor has released an online educational resource that can assist the health care sector in protecting the health of medical workers. Many people in Staten Island work in the health care industry. In addition to the risk of injury common to many workplaces, health care employees are particularly vulnerable to occupational illnesses and diseases. This additional risk can result from exposure to, for example:

  • Pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Hazardous chemicals.
  • Body fluids.
  • Live viruses.
  • Bacteria.
  • Infected needles.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has compiled a comprehensive Web-based toolkit to reduce health risks to patients and medical staff alike. According to a department official, this resource draws on the experience of hospitals that have been most successful in preventing occupational illness.

OSHA's informative new site outlines statistics and facts about staff illness in the health care sector, gives employee disease and injury prevention guidelines, and provides safety assessment checklists.

However, despite the most meticulous of precautions, health care professionals often do succumb to illness and disease as a direct result of hazardous work environments. According to OSHA's website, in 2011 hospitals nationwide showed an incidence of 6.8 occupational illnesses and injuries for every 100 employees. This astonishing rate is almost twice that of private industry overall and totals more than a quarter of a million cases in one year.

Is it possible for health workers to legally maximize the compensation they receive for medical costs, loss of wages and other expenses? Happily, yes.

Every year in the U.S. about $2 billion is paid by hospitals' insurance companies to workers as a result of occupational injury, illness and disease. Many of these workers successfully use professional legal channels to assist them in qualifying for their full benefits.

If you have suffered illness or disease as a direct result of working in a hospital, nursing home, private residence, medical center or other health care workplace, be sure to pursue your right to the highest possible settlement. Invite a legal professional to navigate the compensation system on your behalf.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, “OSHA releases new resources to protect hospital workers and enhance patient safety,” Jan.15, 2014     

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