In the course of the profession of healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, therapists, service staff and medical support staff, they often expose themselves to a number of significant workplace risks:
Accidental Blood & Bodily Fluid Exposures
Bodily fluid samples, blood and other specimens can pose a biohazard risk to workers in they are exposed to the skin or ingested when the fluids spill and cause splash or particle area of effect exposure.
Fatigue is a significant contributor to this risk because it increases the chances of human error and deprives workers of an optimal level of alertness and capacity to react to emergency situations. Most often, healthcare workers who deal with bio hazardous materials are subject to this risk and include house staff, nursing staff and technicians.
The effects are dependent on the illness of the patient and can range from a minor flu, to something critical such as HIV or even deadly such as Ebola.
Needlestick & Sharp Injuries
Similarly, needles can also pass of serious diseases, as well as cause physical injury.
Employers that do not provide adequate safety equipment and training, as well as workers who fail to follow safety standards are the leading cause of sharp injuries.
Other causes include serious work related factors such as: fatigue, depression (stress from the workplace leading to self-harm), long shift work, environmental stressors and busy work pace.
Injuries from Medical Equipment
Medical equipment can cause injury if the equipment is faulty or if the operator is not adequately trained, or negligent in its operation. Injuries can occur from circumstances such as electrocution, equipment falling or rolling over a health care worker, Body parts being caught in moving parts of machinery, etc.
Injuries and disease from equipment such as MRI or X-Ray equipment can also happen if proper procedures are not followed by the operator or the patient. When a person is exposed to harmful rays without protection, a number of serious conditions such as cancer can arise.
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Ambulance drivers and other health care staff that operate vehicles are at risk of being in motor vehicle accidents that can cause injuries such as musculoskeletal injuries, fractures or even death. The nature of having to quickly arrive at a scene and back to the hospital greatly increases the chances of human error and the requirement for very specialized training. Fatigue in this situation can be a deadly issue when it affects a health care worker’s ability to remain alert on the job.
Yet the most risk comes from other drivers on the road and unfortunately, this is a situation that no operator has control over. Sometimes, other drivers are not paying attention and fail to yield to ambulances or other emergency vehicles.
Fatigue & Sleep Disorders
Healthcare workers, especially those working in busy hospitals, may commonly develop sleep disorders and fatigue symptoms. The demands of the health sector require constant alert, training and high pressure requirements. When fatigue affects a worker’s diligence and judgment it can increase the risk of injury and human error. These issues not only increase the risk of accident and injury, but they also affect a worker’s ability to enjoy their normal life with their friends and family in both social and private settings. Stress and anxiety are common issues that arise in healthcare workers dealing with the lives of hundreds of patients on a regular basis.
A Legal Perspective
Many healthcare workers are unsure of what to do if they feel that their workplace is responsible for their injury. Most of the time, they may be unaware of the duty of care that employers must adhere to in order to protect their employees.
If an employer is negligent in their responsibility to provide reasonable safety standards to protect their workers, they open themselves up to civil liability.
Another legal issue that arises in the healthcare profession is whether a worker will be able to claim WorkCover benefits.
In order for your injury to be accepted for compensation under WorkCover, your injury must fit the definition in the legislation as “a personal injury arising out of, or in the course of, employment if the employment is a significant contributing factor to the injury.”
Being denied for WorkCover benefits can be a difficult situation for many people financially and it may also prolong the time that a healthcare worker may return to their healthcare occupation.
Workers Compensation does not need to be unnecessarily complicated
East Coast Injury Lawyers is a Brisbane personal injury lawyer who offers a free, no obligation consultation with one of our accredited specialist lawyers. Strict time limitations apply to your workers compensation claim so it is very important to contact us at 1300 720 544 or fill out our case review form.