A new study by Zippia finds that hospitals are the most dangerous worksites for Pennsylvania employees. Pennsylvania was also ranked 23rd overall in most dangerous states to work in.
The Zippia study identified and weighed several factors in order to designate the "most dangerous" states and industries. First, it examined the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's injury reports, and divided each state's total reports by the number of workers employed in that state. Next, fatality rates reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics were weighed as a separate factor in the analysis of workplace hazard. Finally, data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was broken down to determine the number of injuries in each state per mile driven. (This factor was given less weight, as traffic accidents are not always work related.)
Real Life Accidents in the Healthcare Industry
The injuries statistics are more than just numbers. Real employees' lives can be devastated by the effects of workplace injuries. Consider the example of a Philadelphia nurse who damaged a disc in her back while assisting to move a patient. National Public Radio reports that she required surgery to install a metal cage and four long, sharp screws in her back. "The career I had as a floor nurse is over," the injured nurse says. NPR also reports that nurses and nursing assistants suffer back and musculoskeletal injuries at a rate approximately three times greater than construction laborers.
Violence in the workplace is another very real danger faced by healthcare professionals. CNN reports on a series of troubling violent incidents in hospitals, including: a Baltimore doctor who was shot and critically injured by a gunman; a man in Valley Stream, New York who broke a chair and used the legs to beat a nurse; a gunman who opened fire in a Laurinburg, North Carolina hospital after a bar fight; and a man who killed two hospital employees in a Columbus, Georgia hospital after being dissatisfied with his mother's care. CNN interviewed one emergency nurse who reported that she had been scratched, bitten, spat upon, and struck hard enough to break her jaw. The assailant later apologized, saying that he was "tired of waiting."
And here in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh police officer prevented near-disaster at the Allegheny General Hospital's emergency department. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh police officers responded to the scene of an assault, where the victim was found to have minor lacerations and injuries. He was transported to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment. Acting on instinct, one of the officers ran a background check on the victim, and found that he was wanted in Alabama for murder. Police were able to apprehend the man without incident. Nonetheless, the healthcare workers in the emergency department were undoubtedly placed at risk simply by virtue of performing their work tasks that day.
Employees have rights to protection under Pennsylvania law. Title 35 of the Pennsylvania Statutes makes specific provisions for safety in the workplace. Employers which do not follow these laws are subject to regulatory penalties (such as suspension of a business license), fines, civil lawsuits and even criminal charges. Workers' compensation is considered the exclusive remedy for employees injured at work, though there may occasionally be grounds to assert third-party liability against others aside from the employer who may be liable.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, you have legal rights which must be protected. Contact a Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible after any workplace accident.