Workers' compensation: Ambulance workers at highest risk

According to a study recently conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, two in 100 workers in all occupations suffer workplace injuries that need hospitalization. However, workers' compensation claims show that the numbers for ambulance workers are significantly higher. For them, as many as eight or nine in every 100 end up in hospitals nationwide, including California.

The physical demands of their work pose the most significant hazards for Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics. Their frequent bending, kneeling, pushing, pulling and lifting patients onto and off stretchers make them prone to sprains and strains of muscles and ligaments, as well as various back injuries. The NIOSH study shows that most of the musculoskeletal injuries occur when ambulance workers lift patients.

Blood and bodily fluid exposure is the next highest hazard that sends ambulance workers to emergency rooms. Next on the list is the risk of assault. The study showed that the injury rate among ambulance workers is more than 20 times higher than in other occupations, and authorities believe many assault-related injuries go unreported. For some reason, EMTs and paramedics see these hazards as par for the course in their jobs.

Ambulance workers in California can take comfort in knowing that the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program will have their backs when they suffer on-the-job injuries. An attorney with experience in dealing with workers' compensation issues can assist with the benefits claims process. Legal counsel can also make sure medical expenses are paid promptly, and that the injured worker receives a wage-replacement package along with any other applicable benefits.

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