How to Prevent Staff Injury in Your Medical Clinic
Healthcare staff run a significant risk of injury, and administrators and physicians would do well to take precautions to minimize staff injuries at the doctor’s office.
Healthcare’s Elevated Injury Risk
In an average work setting, physician office staff members are subject to a myriad of unique risk factors that can and do lead to injury. These injuries lead to decreased productivity, missed work days, and expensive medical bills that cost employers and insurance companies millions each year.
In 2013, healthcare was rated the most dangerous place for workplace injuries, according to a study by Public Citizen. Approximately 45% of all workplace injuries resulting in lost workdays are in the healthcare field. For clinics and doctor’s offices, injury prevention isn’t just an option – it’s a necessity.
The study found that workers in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical establishments were more likely to be injured on the job than the average worker. In addition to the routine office hazards, medical staff often work longer hours, are required to pick up heavy patients, and are often in urgent scenarios leading to haste-related falls. In spite of this increased risk, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) performs relatively few inspections in medical facilities, and occupational hazards often go unnoticed.
Common Injuries and How to Prevent Them
There are several injuries common to medical office workplaces, including clinics and doctor’s offices. To minimize the risk of injured workers and costly medical bills for work-related staff injuries, it is vitally important for employers in the healthcare industry to pay special attention to injury prevention. The most common injury risks should be identified, and steps should be taken to ensure staff are aware of these injuries and how to prevent them. Below are some of the most common injuries to prevent.
· Falls: According to the CDC, falling on the job is one of the most common workplace injuries – especially for healthcare professionals. Falls can occur from poor lighting, tripping over equipment and file drawers, or slipping on wet floors.
To prevent falls, ensure that staff members look before walking, clean up spills promptly, report any clutter or loose carpets, and close drawers when not in use.
· Musculoskeletal Injuries: Bones, joints, and muscles interact with one another to provide support and strength for even the most mundane of office tasks. Common musculoskeletal risk associated with an office environment include bursitis, carpal tunnel, and tendon injury.
To prevent musculoskeletal injuries…employ proper desk ergonomics. Computer monitors should be directly in front of staff members, office chairs should be adjustable and have a base with five wheels, staff should place their feet flat on the floor, and the mouse should be close to the keyboard.
· Back Injury: Back injuries cost healthcare employers over $7 billion annually – more than in any other industry. Back injuries are typically caused by lifting awkward, heavy loads and improper posture.
To prevent back injuries…make sure staff members have proper chairs, know to lift with their legs, and always call for help when lifting a patient.
· Inflammation: Office workers often perform the same routine actions over and over again without noticing muscle and tendon fatigue. As a result, inflammation arises, leading to tendonitis, sprains, and debilitating pain.
To prevent inflammation injuries…Workers should be educated about proper posture, the need for periodic breaks, and how to notice oncoming inflammatory issues.
With proper attention to these unique hazards and risks facing medical provider workplaces, clinics can minimize harm and related insurance claims. Attention to detail is the key to injury prevention.
Following these basic guidelines, medical offices will always be a place for healing, not injury.