Funding for accommodating injured workers

“Health care workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including needlestick injuries, back injuries, latex allergy, and stress,” while also encountering those illnesses and injuries not unique to the health care field.[12] For example, a June 30, 2006 report issued by the U. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that from 1995-2004, musculoskeletal injuries were the most common type of non-fatal injury or illness for nursing, psychiatric and home health aides, who represent nearly two-thirds of all health care support occupations.[13] In order to fulfill their mission, many entities that provide health care operate seven days a week, 24 hours per day.For this reason, shift work is common for some health care jobs, such as registered nursing.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

Major life activities are basic activities that the average person can perform with little or no difficulty, such as walking, sitting, standing, lifting, reaching, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, eating, sleeping, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning, thinking, concentrating, interacting with others, and working.

EXAMPLE 1 “Substantially Limited” Helen, a hospital social worker, was diagnosed five years ago with multiple sclerosis that causes chronic, intermittent weakness.

Some of these laws may apply to smaller employers and provide protections in addition to those available under the ADA. Economic Census revealed that, between 19, the health care and social services industries gained 1.8 million jobs, representing a 13 percent increase in merely five years.[9] The health care industry provided more than 13 million jobs in 2004 and is expected to account for 19 percent of all new jobs created between 20 -- more than any other industry.[10] This expansion in health care employment is attributable in part to the aging of the population and attendant increase in health care needs.[11] Just like in other fields, applicants or employees in the health care industry can experience impairments of any kind.

Health care is the largest industry in the American economy, and has a high incidence of occupational injury and illness.[1] Though they are “committed to promoting health through treatment and care for the sick and injured, health care workers, ironically, confront perhaps a greater range of significant workplace hazards than workers in any other sector.”[2] Health care jobs often involve potential exposure to airborne and bloodborne infectious disease, sharps injuries,[3] and other dangers; many health care jobs can also be physically demanding and mentally stressful.[4] Moreover, health care workers with occupational or non-occupational illness or injury may face unique challenges because of societal misperceptions that qualified health care providers must themselves be free from any physical or mental impairment.[5] Although the rules under Title I of the ADA and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act are the same for all industries and work settings, this fact sheet explains how the ADA might apply to particular situations involving job applicants and employees in the health care field.[6] Topics discussed include: The health care industry includes public and private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, offices of physicians, dentists, and other health care practitioners, home health care services, outpatient care centers and other ambulatory health careservices, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.[7] The occupations within this field are many and varied, including but not limited to physicians and surgeons, dentists, dental hygienists and assistants, registered nurses, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, physician’s assistants, social workers, physical therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, radiologists, audiologists, chiropractors, dieticians and nutritionists, pharmacists, optometrists, podiatrists, medical records and health information technicians, clinical laboratory and diagnostic-related technologists and technicians, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, ambulance drivers, nursing aides, home health aides, orderlies and attendants, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, medical assistants, personal and home care aides, medical transcriptionists, custodial and food service workers in medical facilities, as well as those functioning in either management or administrative support roles for workers who provide direct services.[8] The rate of growth in this segment of the economy has been rapid. However, certain impairments more commonly occur in the health care field or, regardless of cause, present particularly challenging accommodation issues in the health care context.

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