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Health care workers at risk from more than Ebola

Health care workers in Minnesota and around the country are exposed to more risks to their health and safety than workers in any other private sector, according to data from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This fact was brought to many people's attention when reports came out about a second hospital worker who contracted Ebola on the job.

The executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health warned that the recent Ebola case has underscored the need for more protections of hospital employees. He says that hospital workers should have more access to appropriate protective equipment and protection from retaliation for speaking up about hazardous conditions. In addition to exposure to deadly viruses and infectious diseases, a hospital injury could be caused by repetitive strain, workplace violence or cuts from sharp objects.

According to OSHA, there were 653,900 workplace injuries and illnesses reported by health care and social assistance workers in 2010. During that same period, manufacturing workers reported a little more than 500,000 on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Although many people assume that working in a hospital would make the employees there safer, taking care of others is actually very dangerous.

A health care worker who has been injured on the job can file a claim for workers' compensation benefits to help cover their immediate expenses. If some type of non-employer negligence caused the workplace injury, it is possible that a third-party claim could be filed for further compensation. A lawyer may be able to help an injured health care worker pursue the maximum amount of compensation that they are entitled to receive for their injury.

Source: EHS Today, "Ebola Outbreak Shows Need for Stronger Protection for Health Care Workers", Sandy Smith, October 17, 2014

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