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12/6/2013 - Healthcare industry struggles with employee injuries

Nursing home facilities tend to see the highest number of accidents and injuries among workers.

Though it may not come as a surprise to those who are in the healthcare industry, the injury rate among employees was quite substantial two years ago, as detailed in a new report.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Professional Safety, employees in the healthcare sector experienced more than 2 million injuries in 2011, ranking it among the top employment sectors in the country for on-the-job injuries, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Scott Harris, the study's co-author and advisory board member for the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, noted that the number of injuries that take place among workers is on par with professions like loggers and fishermen - more traditionally thought of as occupations that carry added risk of impairment.

"Pick any other industry, and the injury rate is less," said Harris. "The injury rates are sky high."

Nursing home facilities tend to see the highest number of accidents and injuries among workers, mainly due to their aiding elderly individuals with walking and getting up from rested positions, such as lying down in bed or seated. In 2011, the injury rate among hospital workers overall was north of $6 million, with nurses bearing the brunt of these injuries, including slips, trips, falls, tears of the back and sprains, the ASSE report noted.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, worker injury rates and illnesses have declined considerably since 1972 - down from 10.9 incidents for every 100 workers to less than four for every 100 employees in 2010. However, they still occur frequently, as more than 4,600 people were killed on the job in 2011. Selective offers Workers Compensation coverage for businessowners, to help cover medical costs should an employee become injured on the job.

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