Working safe

Workplace violence makes headlines, but day-to-day, workers are more impacted by injuries that occur in the line of duty. One of the groups most likely to be injured are healthcare workers, with 489.4 incidents for every 10,000 workers. Over-exertion causes half those injuries.

Looking at specific causes, nursing aides, orderlies and attendants have the highest incident rate of musculoskeletal disorders (249 incidents per 10,000 workers) compared to all other occupations, including construction workers, the U.S. Labor Department reported last year. That incident rate rose by 10 percent, meaning, perhaps, that these workers are being asked to do more with less help.  The number of days-away-from-work cases increased four percent for women in the healthcare industry, part of an increasing incident rate for women injured on the job, the U.S. Labor reported.

The prescription for to prevent workplace violence, according to Bill Whitmore, chairman of AlliedBarton Security Services in Conshohocken, is a workplace atmosphere of openness, where employees feel free to report incidents and behaviors that concern them. Whitmore makes that point repeatedly in his book "Potential: Workplace Violence Prevention and Your Organizational Success." (You can read my Inquirer story about his viewpoint by clicking here.)

The same, no doubt, goes for workplace injuries. Look around, notice what is unsafe and report it -- and when the reason for the injury is lack of help (as it can be when health care attendants are being asked to lift people or move them into awkward spaces), workers must speak up and employers must listen.