Employees in the medical field risk exposure to harmful bloodborne pathogens. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that health care workers experience between 600,000 and 800,000 needlestick injuries each year.
As noted by EHS Online, disposable syringes may spread viruses that cause hepatitis or AIDS. A needle-related accident may result in a debilitating illness. Hospital and nursing home employees face a greater degree of risk.
Needlestick accidents may occur despite training and caution
Accidents could occur even when trained and experienced employees exercise caution at work. Employers, for example, may not have given their workers the correct needle sizes. Patients may jump or move unexpectedly. A slight jar or sudden movement may result in a needle puncturing the skin of a health care worker.
Health care employees may also experience fatigue or burnout from working extended shifts. According to NIOSH, needlestick mishaps regularly occur while employees attempt to recap needles. Accidental punctures also occur when workers do not dispose of used needles correctly.
Animal caretakers risk greater on-the-job injuries
Health care workers have the highest exposure to needlestick accidents but employees working with animals also experience additional dangers. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that veterinary employees experience more injuries than firefighters and police officers.
As reported by Today’s Veterinary Business, animal bites and scratches may result in diseases such as rabies. Accidents involving animal bites, claw wounds and sharp objects could lead to serious medical conditions.
Workers’ compensation benefits may provide injured employees with both medical treatment and financial support. Even if a health care worker contributed to a mishap, California’s labor laws require employers to cover the expenses of recovering from an on-the-job injury.