Emergency medical services (EMS) employees have a higher rate of work-related injuries compared with the general workforce, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The four-years of research concluded that an estimated 22,000 EMS workers annually visit emergency rooms for work-related injuries — the most common being sprains and strains to the back and neck.
Some injury causes
Such injuries typically occur in response to a 911 call. The main reasons include:
- Body motion such as excessive physical effort and repetitive motion
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Slips, trips and fall
- Motor vehicle accidents
NIOSH has assembled a fact sheet on the topic, and encourages employers to promote an improved culture of safety.
Recommendations for prevention
Some of the U.S. government agency’s recommendations include:
- Create workplace policies that promote safety, health and well-being
- Promote safe patient handling techniques such as teaching workers the proper way to lift and transport patients
- Protect workers from exposure to blood and other potentially infectious body fluids
- Prevent slips, trips and falls by setting policies requiring workers to wear durable, slip-resistant footwear
- Improve motor vehicle safety by requiring use of safety belts, prohibiting texting, and providing vehicle operating training
- Prevent patient-related violence by providing de-escalation and self-defense training to reduce risk
These recommendations would likely benefit any worker at our health care facilities. Let’s focus on prevention and education. Fewer injuries will likely be the result.