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3 leading risk factors for health care worker injuries

Health care employees in Kentucky work in a demanding environment. Although the industry as a whole has managed to reduce the frequency of workplace injury claims by 1 percent annually, risk experts have measured a 2 percent increase in the severity of such injuries. The analysts at Aon Global Risk Consulting have identified aging workers, workplace violence and patient handling as the primary sources of injuries.

In the health care industry, the cost of claims for workers' compensation rises as the age of the workforce increases. Nurses suffer injuries most often, and 53 percent of them are over 50. Most of the injuries involve their backs or shoulders. Violence at work also represents a widespread threat. A recent survey reported that 91 percent of health care workers have experienced workplace violence.

Injuries also result when workers handle patients. Any efforts on the part of a health care facility to develop safe patient handling procedures and train employees in their use could reduce these injuries. Aon Global Risk Consulting identified a significantly lower average cost for injury claims at workplaces that emphasized safety procedures. A facility with specific patient handling standards paid an average of $6,000 per claim whereas the average cost reached $7,800 per claim at facilities that did not have specific procedures.

These costs represent medical bills and lost income paid for by workers' compensation. Employers must maintain these insurance policies for injured workers. A person hurt at work would need to report an injury to qualify for these benefits. If information about these benefits is not available, the person might ask an attorney to investigate the process. An attorney could identify specific benefits available and prepare the claim. A denial from an insurance company might be challenged by an attorney as well.

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