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Health Care Workers At High Risk of Workplace Injury

Recent statistics from the Department of Labor indicate a surprising fact: workers at hospitals, doctors' offices and residential care facilities are more likely to be injured on the job than workers in some traditionally 'high risk' occupations such as construction.

The rate of workplace injury in the medical profession was the focus of the Department of Labor's annual report on workplace injuries and illness. According to the report, in 2010, workers in the health care and social assistance sector have an injury and illness rate of 5.2 cases for every 100 workers. This compares to a rate of 3.5 cases per 100 workers across all private sectors. The construction sector recorded a rate of 4.0 cases per 100 workers, while the manufacturing sector came in at 4.4.

Within the health care and social assistance sector, workers in nursing and residential care facilities were most at risk with a rate of 8.2 illnesses and injuries per 100 workers. Hospital workers came next with a 7.0 rate.

According to labor department economists, illnesses make up only a small percentage of these workplace injuries. Most involve back strains from lifting and moving patients, slips and falls on wet floors at hospitals and nursing homes, and so-called needlesticks: injuries resulting from accidental punctures by medical equipment.