Dangers for Home Healthcare Workers
There’s no question that home healthcare workers provide vital support for those who are elderly, disabled, or are recovering from medical procedures at home. And with a rapidly aging population, home healthcare is a career field expected to grow in upcoming years. But as important as the work they do is, home healthcare comes with certain safety risks. Healthcare workers in general tend to have high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses and home healthcare workers are no exception. On top of the types of injuries common in all types of health workers, there can be added risks for those who provide in-home care.
Violence & Crime
Violence in the workplace is common in healthcare, but when workers need to leave a hospital or clinic, the risk of violence can increase. Since home healthcare workers need to travel between patients rather than working in a hospital or clinic, that can mean working in neighborhoods with high crime rates, often by themselves or with limited contact between them and their employer. This can leave workers vulnerable to becoming victims of crimes like robberies and assault. Additionally, there’s the risks of a patient’s family being combative, a patient having an aggressive dog, or the patient themselves being violent.
In the course of traveling between patient homes, there’s the inherent risk of getting into a car accident along the way. Even if the care provider is very cautious while driving, the negligence of another driver can easily result in a serious crash during the workday.
The risk of musculoskeletal injuries is another common issue for healthcare workers in general, but there are some factors that put home care workers at higher risk. When people are working in a hospital setting, for example, they can get assistance from others if they need to move a patient or have access to tools like lifts to help make the job easier. But when a healthcare worker is providing in-home care, they often don’t have someone to help or access to lifts. There’s also the chance that the patient isn’t in an adjustable bed or is in a small room, both of which can make it difficult for the care provider to get into positions that will help them safely and properly move the patient. Over time, the combination of lifting significant amounts of weight while in awkward positions can cause injury to things like joints, muscles, spine, and cartilage, and nerves.
A home healthcare worker might need to work with needles as part of their job for a wide range of reasons, including to give a patient medication and while working with IV tubing. According to the CDC, approximately 385,000-800,000 needlestick injuries occur every year in all healthcare settings, but they often go unreported due to fears of being seen as careless or not wanting to deal with long reporting processes. Needlestick injuries are another type of injury that healthcare workers across the board can encounter, but in home care settings, there can be unique factors like a worker getting struck unexpectedly because a patient or a patient’s family didn’t properly dispose of a sharp. Or a care provider may not have been provided with things like a sharp disposal bin or needles designed to prevent accidental needlesticks.
Contact a Michigan Workplace Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s very important to make sure you contact a workplace injury lawyer to make sure your claim for workers compensation is handled correctly from the very beginning. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’ve helped the victims of many workplace accidents in the state of Michigan get the compensation they need while they recover. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
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