There's been a lot of talk about essential workers since we first heard of the coronavirus and COVID-19. These are people whose jobs are so important, they're exempt from state stay-at-home orders. Many of these workers risk exposure to the virus every day to give the rest of us access to the basics we need for survival.
As a nation, we've celebrated and thanked these essential workers, especially doctors and nurses—and they deserve it.
However, frontline healthcare workers would be the first to admit that they can’t do their jobs without the support of dozens of other hospital workers. We want to take an opportunity to recognize the efforts of hospital staff members who work behind the scenes to keep us safe and acknowledge the dangers they face on the job.
Who Really Works in Ohio Hospitals?
We've previously discussed the possibility of healthcare workers claiming COVID-19 as an occupational disease and collecting workers’ compensation if they become ill. The Ohio legislature was considering officially declaring it an occupational disease but, as of mid-May 2020, hasn't acted.
Whether hospital workers will qualify for workers’ comp for COVID-19 remains to be seen, but contracting the virus isn't the only hazard essential hospital workers face these days. Depending on the role they play, hospital workers encounter many health issues, including:
- Doctors. While evaluating, treating, and operating on patients, doctors risk exposure to disease and may also suffer musculoskeletal injuries, scalpel cuts, needle pricks, and other injuries.
- Nurses. Nurses do a lot of the heavy lifting in a hospital—literally and figuratively. They can suffer repetitive use injuries, sprains and strains, slip and falls, disease exposure, and even violent attacks by patients.
- Nursing assistants. These vital hospital workers take 'round-the-clock shifts to provide patient care and are often responsible for moving patients, lifting them to go to the bathroom, and doing other strenuous tasks. They frequently experience sprains and strains, falls, and similar injuries.
- Therapists. Respiratory therapists are in high demand during the coronavirus epidemic and are often overworked and stressed out. While treatments such as physical and occupational therapy may be on hold for now, many of these professionals were reassigned to other areas and risk injury because they're unfamiliar with the protocols of their new roles.
- Technicians. Lab, radiology, surgical, and pharmacy technicians are busier than ever testing patients and processing samples. Moving and maintaining heavy equipment, and handling infectious materials, puts them at high risk of injury.
- Custodial staff. Disinfection has never been more critical than it is during the pandemic. Hospital custodians are in high demand, cleaning surfaces regularly throughout the day. They risk repetitive motion injuries, exposure to infectious materials, back strains, and more.
- Clerical staff. Even during a pandemic, patients need to be checked in and out of the hospital, and maintaining records is more important than ever. These hospital employees may have to lift and carry heavy boxes, sit at a desk for long periods, and pitch in wherever they're needed. They can also suffer debilitating injuries.
- Foodservice staff. Responsible for feeding the rest of the hospital staff, food service employees haven't been furloughed during this uncertain time. They must not only continue to serve food but also do so with heightened sanitation measures and fewer staff members. This has created dangerous working conditions for food service workers in many hospitals.
The reality is that every worker is at risk of suffering an injury on the job. However, hospital employees are under increased pressure these days, and their chances of being injured at work are likely higher than ever. They deserve a workers’ comp advocate who will fight for the benefits they deserve.
Monast Law Office Is Here for You During This Difficult Time
I'm a board-certified attorney in Ohio workers’ compensation law and have obtained fair payment for injured and disabled workers for over 30 years. Our firm is dedicated to providing essential hospital workers with the guidance and representation they need to recover from an on-the-job accident. If you were injured at work, we may secure financial support while you get healthy again. Contact our office in Columbus to discover how we can help.