Working in a Hospital May Be Hazardous to Your Health
Hospital workers are at an increased risk of developing work injuries and illnesses because of their profession. Some of the dangers that may be present in this industry include:
Hospital workers are constantly surrounded by sick people. As such, they may be exposed to highly contagious illnesses. Workers may develop serious illnesses due to this exposure.
Since many healthcare providers work as independent contractors, their claims may not be covered by workers' compensation. A work injury lawyer can investigate if the hospital failed to take steps to reduce workers' exposure to these risks when the hospital is not the worker's employer.
Another work injury that hospital workers may sustain is exposure to dangerous chemicals. For example, hospital workers may come in contact with ethylene oxide, a flammable gas that smells like either. This chemical is often found in sterilants that hospital workers may be exposed to when sterilizing surgical instruments. Although OSHA publishes guidance on how employers can monitor the quality of air, not all hospitals follow such guidance.
Another dangerous chemical that hospital workers may encounter is formaldehyde, another sterilant. This chemical is often used to prepare vaccines, to sterilize medical instruments and to embalm people. When inhaled, hospital workers can suffer illnesses.
Another potential work injury that hospital workers may encounter is exposure to hazardous drugs. Drugs are classified as hazardous to humans when exposure to them can result in the development of serious illnesses like cancer, reproductive toxicity or damage to organs. These drugs may result in serious, life-altering consequences even if exposure is only of a small dose.
Emergency Response Dangers
When an emergency situation arises, hospital workers may face heightened hazards in the workplace. This may include exposure to a chemical, biological or radioactive hazard. For example, a hospital worker may come in contact with substances involved in terrorist activity.
Hospital workers may be exposed to products to which they may have an allergic reaction. For example, many people are allergic to latex. This is a common material found in hospital gloves. An allergic reaction may range from mild - in which the person sneezes or has a runny rose - to severe in which a person has an anaphylactic reaction.
Radiation may expose hospital workers to additional hazards. For example, a laser may cause a burn injury. Equipment used for this process may have high voltage, potentially causing shock to the worker.