Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Understanding the Problem

Nationwide, workers' compensation losses result in a total annual expense of $2 billion for hospitals!

Hospitals have serious hazards—lifting and moving patients, needlesticks, slips, trips, and falls, and the potential for agitated or combative patients or visitors—along with a dynamic, unpredictable environment and a unique culture. Caregivers feel an ethical duty to "do no harm" to patients, and some will even put their own safety and health at risk to help a patient.

Hospital work can be surprisingly dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the likelihood of injury or illness resulting in days away from work is higher in hospitals than in construction and manufacturing—two industries that are traditionally thought to be relatively hazardous.

Injuries and illnesses come at a high cost. When an employee gets hurt on the job, hospitals pay the price in many ways, including: Workers' compensation for lost wages and medical costs; temporary staffing, backfilling, and overtime when injured employees miss work; turnover costs when an injured employee quits; and decreased productivity and morale as employees become physically and emotionally fatigued.

Workplace safety also affects patient care. Manual lifting can injure caregivers and also put patients at risk of falls, fractures, bruises, and skin tears. Caregiver fatigue, injury, and stress are tied to a higher risk of medication errors and patient infections.

Tools & Resources

Click on the products below to learn more about worker safety in hospitals.

  • Document 1.1

    Get the Basic Facts

    An executive summary for hospital administrators and others who want to learn more about who is getting injured, how they are getting hurt, how much it costs, and what hospitals can do to address the problem.

    PDF Download*

  • Document 1.2

    Get the Full Story

    A factbook with detailed trend data that offers a comprehensive look at hospital worker safety.

    PDF Download*

  • How Safe is Your Hospital?

    A fillable questionnaire to help you gather key information from your facility, find out how safe your workplace is, how much your hospital spends on worker injuries and illnesses, what programs are in place to address the problem, and how you compare with other hospitals nationwide.

    PDF Download*

Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1950 for assistance accessing DOC, EPS, GIF, MP4, PDF, PPT or XLS documents.

*These files are provided for downloading.

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