Healthcare and Hospital Worker Attorney in Pittsburgh, PA
You shouldn't have to choose between your job and your health—everyone has the right to a safe workplace.
However, the reality is that work injuries do happen. In the United States, more workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industries than in any other sector. Nurses, nursing assistants, doctors, home health aides, occupational therapists, administrative staff, and more all face many health and injury risks at work.
Employers have a legal obligation to make workplaces as safe as possible. If you were injured on the job, it's in your best interest to reach out to an experienced workers' compensation healthcare and hospital attorney. Employers know their rights and so should you.
We're available for free, no obligation legal consultations 24/7 by phone, online form, or chat. You can call us at 412-545-6104.
What is OSHA in Healthcare?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to ensure safe and healthy conditions for all workers. As part of the US Department of Labor, OSHA sets and enforces safety standards through training, education, and outreach.
The OHSA Act covers most private sector employers and their workers. Here are some of the standards that apply to the healthcare industry:
Hazard Communication Standard: Ensures that employers and employees know about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and how to protect themselves.
Bloodborne Pathogens Standard: OSHA has standards for communicable diseases that are designed to protect healthcare workers. These include the Bloodborne Pathogens standard and the Personal Protective Equipment standard. Employers must create a written exposure control plan and provide training to employees, among other compliance requirements.
Ionizing Radiation Standard: This applies to facilities that have an x-ray machine. It requires that employers designate restricted areas to limit employee exposure to radiation.
Electrical Standards: Electrical violations, such as faulty wiring, are one of the most commonly cited OSHA violations. Workplaces that use flammable gases may need special wiring and equipment installation.
What is Safety in Healthcare?
Safety in a healthcare setting is twofold: Patient safety and employee safety.
Patient safety means preventing errors and adverse effects. It includes very specific things like healthcare workers avoiding medication errors and patient falls. On a broader level, it means healthcare organizations protecting patients from injuries, infections, errors, and accidents.
While it is extremely important to talk about how the healthcare professional can impact patient and worker safety, it's also important to discuss how and if employers adequately protect healthcare workers.
Management is responsible for creating a safe workplace that doesn't expose employees to unnecessary hazards. Below we discuss employer responsibility when it comes to healthcare workplace safety.
Who is Responsible for Safety in a Healthcare Facility?
According to OSHA, employers are responsible for protecting workers' safety in healthcare facilities. Among other things, employers must:
- Ensure working conditions don't pose a risk of serious harm
- Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment
- Properly maintain tools and equipment
- Use labels, signs, or color codes to warn of potential hazards
- Allow employees to review work-related injuries and illnesses
- Provide information and training (in language employees can understand) about workplace hazards, hazard prevention, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace
If you are concerned about the safety conditions at your workplace, you have a right to speak up about them and to report injuries and violations without fear of retaliation.
Despite these regulations, hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers are injured every year. If you were hurt at work, an experienced Pittsburgh work comp attorney can explain exactly where the responsibility lies and what options you have. Our Pittsburgh work comp attorneys are available for free consultations at 412-545-6104.
Why is Healthcare Work Dangerous?
Healthcare workers face a wide variety of hazards. Dangers for healthcare workers include:
- Injury risk from lifting patients and repetitive tasks
- Bloodborne pathogens (such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS)
- Exposure to other infectious agents such as Ebola, tuberculosis, MRSA, etc.
- Biological hazards (mold, fungi, blood, bodily fluids, etc.)
- Chemical and drug exposures
- X-ray hazards
Recent statistics show that the healthcare and social assistance industries report over 580,000 injury and illness cases a year. This is 153,900 more cases than the next highest industry sector.
Healthcare facilities are responsible for adhering to and enforcing these regulations to protect their workers.
Not only are healthcare workers exposed to dangers such as potential risks of infection within the workplace, they often work long, atypical hours. Alertness, energy, sleep, and overall health are all affected by the demanding schedule.
What Are My Legal Rights as an Employee?
There are a number of laws at the federal, state, and local levels that protect workers—and these laws are applicable to healthcare and hospital employees as well. They protect employees' health, safety, wages, and more.
These laws are complex and vary based on several factors, but there's no need for you to try and figure them out on your own. If you think that your rights have been violated, you should contact an experienced Pittsburgh attorney right away. Our team has decades of experience helping injured workers, and we're here to help you, too. Call us at 412-545-6104.
When it comes to health and safety, workers have the right to:
- Work in conditions that don't pose a risk of serious harm
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Receive information and training about workplace hazards, how to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace
- Report injuries and concerns without retaliation
What Laws Protect Workers?
The US Department of Labor enforces almost 200 worker protection laws. Other agencies, like the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, oversee additional regulations. These laws:
- Protect worker pay (such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, which ensures that workers receive a minimum wage)
- Protect employee benefits (Affordable Care Act, Social Security Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, etc.)
- Prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, etc.)
- Protect employees who report their employer for violating the law (such as OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program)
- And more
As discussed earlier on this page, there are also laws that protect worker safety, which are primarily enforced by OHSA.
What Rights Do Employers Have in the Workplace?
Employers have the right to hire and terminate people according to the law. They also have the right to expect reasonable performance and ethical behavior from their employees. They do not have the right to:
- Discriminate against current or potential employees
- Allow any form of discrimination or harassment to occur in the workplace
If they do either of these things, employers can be held legally liable.
Injured at Work? We Can Help
Being hurt on the job is overwhelming—not only are you concerned about your health and recovery but also about your job and livelihood.
There's no reason for you to try and figure out the legal aspects of your injury and workers' compensation claim—that's our job. We're available 24/7 for free legal consultations. We'll ask you questions, gather information, and explain your options. There's no obligation to use our services, but if you do decide to work with us, "There's never a fee unless we get money for you."