WORKERS’ COMPENSATION Healthcare workers experience a mixture of risks based on the nature of their duties and tasks. Some risks seem routine and part of the job, while others are a result of unpredictable emergencies and/or poorly managed preparedness plans. Healthcare ranks the second highest for lost time injuries among all employment sectors in Ontario. Some of the most common injuries are: Musculoskeletal injuries •
Top lost time injury at work reported by the WSIB.
Caused by client handling activities: lifting, moving, transferring, repositioning, and even laundry.
These injuries can be painful and debilitating and are often underreported.
Physical and verbal violence from clients •
Increased risk of violence when working alone and in the community, and by providing direct care to individuals with cognitive impairments.
Examples include being struck by a person with or without an object, bites, scratches, grabs, hair pulls, verbal violence and threats.
Respiratory Hazards and Needle Sticks •
Increased exposure to infection, viruses and bacteria, needle sticks, bodily fluids, soiled linens, chemicals and medications.
Slips and Falls •
Increased risk of slips and falls from wet floors from personal care/housekeeping, poor snow removal, and clients leaving things in walkways.
Chronic Mental Stress/Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Mental Stress •
Exposure to one-time or repeated violence and harassment, lack of safe spaces (physical and psychological), overwork, exhaustion and more.
Understaffing is a leading risk factor to the development and exposure to workplace injuries for healthcare workers. Understaffing leads to longer hours and higher patient demand, which make workers more susceptible to injuries. The situation has been exacerPage 20
Checkout Summer 2022
bated by COVID-19, but understaffing is a longstanding issue resulting mostly from funding cuts made by the government. The nature of healthcare means employers often guilt employees into working longer hours and managing heavier workloads so that ‘clients don’t suffer.’ This exploitation only adds to worker stress and burnout. It is far too common for healthcare workers to not bother filing claims, whether because of WSIB hassles, or because they believe their injury is part of the job, that the incident wasn’t painful or significant at the time, or that they can shake it off. None of these reasons should stop a worker from filing a WSIB claim. Healthcare workers may experience injuries over and over, making it worse over time, or realize months down the road that the injury has lingered but the WSIB may use the delay in reporting as a reason to deny the claim. With any workplace injury, it’s vital to REPORT YOUR INJURY OR ILLNESS to your employer and Union Rep, and file a Form 6 with the WSIB right away to start your claim. Some healthcare facilities have additional insurance coverage, and workplaces under federal jurisdiction may provide their own benefit coverage. In either case, ensure you report your injury or illness to all appropriate agencies. Questions? Reach out to the UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Workers’ Compensation Department at email@example.com or 1-800-565-8329.