The Dramatic Toll of COVID-19 on Healthcare Workers - Worksite Medical
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Just a few months ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their annual workplace injury and illness report.

Comparing data from 2019-2020, it reveals the significant impact of COVID-19 across all workplaces.

However, while nearly all areas felt the sting to one degree or another, the toll of COVID-19 on healthcare workers was the greatest of all.

Given their close proximity to so many sick patients, that probably doesn’t surprise you.

However, the sheer extent of it might.


Examining the Data


In 2020, private industries overall reported 1,176,340 nonfatal injuries and illnesses causing at least one day away from work (DAFW).

That’s 32.4% higher than the year prior, and largely attributed to COVID-19 outbreaks.

However, not every industry was affected the same. Healthcare workers, in particular, bore the brunt of the storm.

For example, nursing assistants had the highest number of DAFW, with 96,480 instances. That’s an incredible 249% increase from the year prior, and far greater than the overall average of 32%.

Yet, the toll of COVID-19 on healthcare workers was even greater in other areas.

For registered nurses, DAFW increased by a staggering 290%, to a total of 78,740 cases.

This employer-reported data shows that healthcare workers, in particular, encountered serious safety and health hazards while tending to those battling COVID-19.


Reasons Why the Toll of COVID-19 on Healthcare Workers Was So Great


There are several factors that likely contributed to this increase.

First and foremost is obviously the increased exposure to COVID-19 itself.

Though healthcare workers are always at a higher risk for contracting communicable diseases, the pandemic amplified these risks exponentially.

In addition, many hospitals were forced to cut staff or reduce hours in order to deal with financial constraints brought on by the pandemic.

This leaves healthcare workers dealing with increased workloads and less rest time.

All of these factors together create a perfect storm for workplace injury and illness.

As the pandemic continues, it’s going to take strong, proactive steps to improve the situation.


Improving Safety for Healthcare Workers


So, what can be done to mitigate these risks?

First and foremost, you need to make sure your healthcare workers are given the proper training and protocols for dealing with COVID-19.

They must be aware of the risks they face and how best to protect themselves from infection.

Though adequate staffing of healthcare facilities is important for proper rest and recovery, the reality means it’s not always possible.

At the very least, you need to take a proactive approach for the safety and health of your team.

Address the hazards and dangers with the right training and preventative measures – such as the right PPE and medical surveillance – to protect employees against the dangers of COVID-19.


OSHA Speaks on Preventing Injury and Illness for Healthcare Workers


In observance of National Caregivers Day on Feb. 18, OSHA urged healthcare employers to take action to make 2022 a safer year for workers.

“We recognize our caregivers for the extraordinary sacrifices they continue to make working on the frontline throughout the pandemic to keep us healthy and safe – and we owe it to them to ensure their employers are doing all they can to protect them,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Douglas Parker in a statement.

“The dangers healthcare workers face continue to be of the highest concern, and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still needed to protect them.”

OSHA is currently working to expedite a final standard to specifically protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.

Currently, employers must continue to comply with regulations set forth in the General Duty Clause, Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards, as well as other applicable OSHA standards for protecting workers from hazards like COVID-19 in the workplace.


The Takeaways


The data is clear: while industries everywhere were directly affected by COVID-19, those in healthcare suffered the most.

Whether it’s training, proper PPE, medical surveillance, or better staffing, it’s time to improve conditions.

This report is a sobering reminder of the toll that COVID-19 has taken on our healthcare system.

And, it’s a call to action for us to do better by our healthcare workers.

They deserve nothing less.



About Worksite Medical

In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.

With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.

Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.

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