Minnesota companies have a duty to ensure that their employees have a safe work environment, which may be accomplished through training, inspections and reviews. When work-related accidents and injuries reach high numbers, a business may face greater attention from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In the health care industry, dangers for workers may not receive sufficient attention. This may be due to issues such as malpractice, elder abuse and other serious problems overshadowing worker concerns. However, nursing home workers and others who deal with inpatient care are exposed to numerous hazards as well.
In June 2015, OSHA issued a memo that addressed a new initiative for inspecting and monitoring inpatient facilities. Attention will be given to workplace injuries and hazards involving musculoskeletal disorders, blood-related pathogens, TB, workplace violence, and slip-and-fall incidents. A general duty clause has also been included to address non-specific hazards that may occur in certain settings. In nursing homes, for example, there may be high levels of exposure to cleaning chemicals. Hospital workers could face an increased risk of contact with MRSA.
This initiative may carry over into ambulatory situations as workers in outpatient clinics face similar work risks. Although some hazards are inherent to the settings in question, effective strategies for mitigating employee risks are important. Failure to address these hazards could result in significant penalties for the companies involved.
Many health care workers who are injured on the job are entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which can include the provision of necessary medical care as well as a portion of wages lost when the employee is unable to work. An attorney can often be of assistance during the filing process.