If you’re employed in California, you are almost certainly covered by workers’ compensation insurance paid for by your employer.
If you aren’t it’s probably due to your employer breaking state law and not to some exception to the law.
Whether you work in a hospital, nursing home, or as a home health care or domestic worker, you have a right to workers compensation insurance in California.
Caring for patients is dangerous work
The statistics are clear. Healthcare is a dangerous industry and nursing is a particularly dangerous profession.
Consider the recent US Department of Labor’s list of private-industry occupations with the most injuries and illness.
Registered nurse was the seventh most dangerous profession. Nursing assistant came in at fourth.
These two nursing professions together accounted for nearly 6.7 percent of all incidents, more than any other profession except the broad category of “non-construction laborer.”
The physical risks of patient handling
The source of most of these health problems among RNs or CNAs will probably surprise you, unless you’re an RN or CNA.
It’s not diseases caught from patients or accidental sticks from needles, nor is it workplace violence following patients from the street into the ER. Of course, these are very real and significant risks.
The largest cause of missed workdays for nursing professionals is musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These are often injuries to the shoulder and elbow (rotator cuff injuries and epicondylitis), muscle or tendon damage (strains) and lower back injuries.
Reporting injuries promptly and taking time to seek professional diagnosis and treatment will help you identify and document the causes contributing to your injuries.
This could help you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you’re owed.
Promptly reporting and diagnosing will also help your employer understand and address the dangers present in the places you and your fellow health care workers practice your profession.