Article – Occupational injuries in healthcare and social assistance

Background and Aim: The health care and social assistance industry has one of the highest rates of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses, both in California and nationally. In the coming years, the health care industry will face added pressure as both the population and workforce age. The aim of this study is to identify targeted populations that may benefit from interventions to prevent future injuries, keep the workforce healthy, and decrease injury-related costs.
Methods: This retrospective study analyzed California workers’ compensation claims from 2009 to 2018 in the health care and social assistance industry.
Results: Across the four industry sub-groups, the highest number of claims came from hospitals (n = 243 605; 38.9%), followed by ambulatory care (n = 187 010; 29.9%), nursing/residential care (n = 133 206; 21.3%), and social assistance (n = 62 211; 9.9%). Nursing/residential care settings reported the highest proportion of both lifting injuries (15.8%) and low back injuries (16.9%) as compared to the other settings. Across all settings within California, nurses had the highest proportion of injuries (22.1%), followed by aides/assistants (20.4%), services staff (13.2%), administrative staff (11.0%), and technicians (10.3%). Thirty-five of California’s counties had an increasing rate of population-adjusted claims during the study period.
Conclusion: This study found that while hospitals have the highest number of injuries, ambulatory care employee injuries are increasing. Employees involved in nonpatient care tasks, such as those working in facility service roles, would likely benefit from additional injury prevention interventions.

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