If you make your living working in a hospital, you may have firsthand knowledge about some of the industry-specific dangers you face on a day-to-day basis. Hospitals, per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are one of the most dangerous work environments in the nation, with hospital workers experiencing injuries at almost twice the rate of employees in other private industries.

Just what kinds of unique risks do you face working in hospitals?

Job-specific risks

Hospital workers face numerous job-related hazards, and many of these hazards are even more dangerous for older hospital workers, as older populations are more vulnerable to injuries and infections than their younger coworkers. Regardless of age, however, hospital workers often suffer injuries that result from transporting immobile patients. In fact, overexertion and bodily reaction is the single-biggest cause of hospital worker injuries, accounting for 48 percent of all injury cases. Performing such actions repeatedly can lead to repetitive motion and other injuries, and this becomes particularly likely if you do not utilize proper lifting procedures or safe patient-moving equipment when doing so.

Slip-and-fall injuries can result from slippery floors, carrying heavy loads or other causes and are quite common among hospital workers, causing about a quarter of all hospital worker injuries. Meanwhile, hospital workers also face hazards relating to needle sticks, other sharp objects and violence. Regrettably, the threat of violence is a genuine concern for many hospital workers, with some patients engaging in violent behavior due to drug use, alcohol abuse or other factors.

Hospital worker risks compared with other industries

Hospital environments are hotbeds for worker injuries, with hospitals seeing nearly 59,000 injuries severe enough to cause employees to miss work in 2011 alone. Hospital workers also suffer about 157.5 injuries for every 10,000 full-time workers, surpassing the number of injuries suffered by those in the construction, manufacturing and other fields known to be dangerous.

Because so many hospital worker injuries result from similar hazards, there are many steps hospitals can take to reduce these hazards and better protect their workforce.