Health care workers suffer more injuries and illnesses on the job than those in any other industry, thanks in large part to limited federal safety standards and inspections of health care facilities, says a new report by a national advocacy non-profit.
The report by Public Citizen shows health care workers had about 654,000 workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010, about 152,000 more than the next most afflicted industry sector, manufacturing. Even though health care workers outnumber construction workers 2-1, the agency responsible for worker safety — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — conducts nearly 20 times more inspections of construction sites than health care sites, according to the Public Citizen report.
"The record is clear that the government has broken its promise to health care workers," said Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate for Public Citizen and co-author of the report. Health care workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including needle sticks, back injuries from lifting patients and moving equipment, latex allergies and violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.