Nurses face a wide variety of risks of injury in the workplace. They face the danger of needle sticks and exposure to bacteria and germs that could cause serious illness. In a fast-paced healthcare environment, they could be at risk of a slip-and-fall. They could also be in jeopardy of overexertion injuries from being forced to lift and move heavy patients.
Whenever a nurse is hurt on-the-job, they could potentially be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. There are also situations in which a nurse could be victimized by an intentional act and still be entitled to receive workers’ comp for nurses. This can happen if the nurse is harmed by violence. Violence is a leading cause of injury for nurses.
According to Safety and Health Magazine, the problem has become such a big one that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is considering a rule to require employers to better protect healthcare workers from acts of violence in the workplace.
Workers’ Compensation for Nurses After Injuries Caused by Violence
Occupational Safety and Health Administration is considering setting standards for healthcare employers to provide violence protection and has put forth a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI is the first step in a very lengthy rule-making process. OSHA began the process after getting a troubling report from Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding the dangerous conditions healthcare workers face.
The actual incidents of violence directed at healthcare workers are substantially underreported, according to GAO. Based on the data that is available about the dangers faced on-the-job, healthcare workers are between five and 12 times as likely as other private sector workers to become victimized by violence at work. When acts of violence are reported, they usually involve various types of assaults including hitting, kicking, beating, and pushing.
Usually, it is patients who perpetrate these actions on nurses. However, just because it is a patient who is being violent does not mean an employer doesn’t have a responsibility to try to prevent these acts of aggression. OSHA is seeking to potentially set rules that would streamline and formalize the responsibility an employer has.
The process of creating a rule will take years, if it is even successful in the end. In the meantime, healthcare workers continue to be in major jeopardy of being harmed. If an act of violence occurs at work and a care worker suffers injury as a result, workers’ compensation should be available to pay for medical treatment and other losses experienced due to the injuries.