You might think that working on a construction site or as a police officer is dangerous. While those workers certainly face the risk of being injured, it might come as a surprise that another group of workers is facing an increasing risk of being hurt on the job: Nurses.
According to Occupational Health & Safety, violence is on the rise in the health care sector, and nurses are especially at risk. Health care workers face a variety of threats every day they go to work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists four types of violence in the health care field. A nurse or other health care worker can be injured by:
- Someone with criminal intent (a person who has no relationship to the business or its employees)
- A patient who acts violently during treatment
- Another employee of the health care facility
- Personal relationship violence
According to a survey, one in five registered nurses and nursing students reported being physically assaulted during a one-year period. Half of them say they were verbally abused. The health care field experiences a higher rate of serious workplace violence than the private industry on average, according to OSHA.
What leads to violence in the health care industry?
Nurses and other health care professionals often work in emotionally charged environments. Patients and their family members are sometimes upset, frightened or even angry. Nurses treat patients from all walks of life. A patient might have a history of violence or be high on drugs when he or she comes into an emergency room.
OHS suggests ways to address the problem of workplace violence in health care facilities. Employers should encourage nurses and other employees to report any act of violence against them. Employers should have systems in place that encourage reporting of violence.
In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has compiled guidelines for preventing workplace violence for health care and social service workers. All health care employers should review them and consider enhancing efforts to keep employees safe.
Many states, including New Jersey, have adopted tougher penalties for assaults against nurses and other health care professionals. In 2011, lawmakers upgraded the penalties from simple assault to aggravated assault. Under New Jersey state law, someone who assaults a health care worker will be charged with the same offense as someone who assaults a law enforcement officer, according to NBC New York.
NBC New York quotes a registered nurse: “The vast majority of assaults that occur in the health care setting are non-lethal in nature. But you don't have to be killed to be changed forever.”
How a New Jersey workplace injury attorney can help you
If you are a health care employee who is hurt at work, you should seek medical attention and then report the incident as soon as possible. You may be entitled to benefits through a workers’ compensation claim. At Shebell & Shebell, LLC, our experienced New Jersey workplace accident attorneys know how to maximize benefits for clients. We can handle the details of the claim while you focus on your recovery.
Contact us online today for a free consultation.