Hazards Faced by Animal Clinic Workers

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According to a study by CareerCast.com, animal clinic workers may have one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America. Veterinarians and animal technicians are often using hazardous chemicals and equipment while working around animals that are frightened and in pain. Some of these risks can be reduced by implementing safety procedures and training.

Causes of Injuries in Animal Clinics

The leading cause of injuries in an animal clinic or hospital is interaction with the animal patients. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association (JAVMA) reported that 98 percent of animal technicians are injured by an animal patient at some point during their career. Animals can be unpredictable, particularly when they are undergoing stress induced by illness, injury, or unfamiliar surroundings. Experienced animal technicians should learn how to read an animal’s body language to reduce the risk of bites or scratches. In addition to injuries caused by animals, other hazards include the following:

  • X-ray machines
  • Surgical lasers
  • Sterilization equipment, including autoclaves
  • Blood-borne pathogens
  • Chemicals, including insecticides and surgical smoke
  • Anesthetic gases
  • Ethylene oxide used to sterilize instruments
  • Needles

X-ray machines emit potentially harmful amounts of radiation. Although animal clinic workers are typically trained in radiation safety, it is not unusual for them to lean it close to an animal getting X-rayed to keep it still.  When things get hectic, workers may take shortcuts. Needles are also a source of injury when technical walk around with them in their pockets.

Types of Injuries

In addition to cuts, scratches and bites from animal patients, workers in animal hospitals and clinics may experience the following medical problems:

  • Headaches and dizziness from exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Cuts and puncture wounds from needles
  • Muscle sprains, strains, and back injuries from lifting animals and supplies
  • Damage to female reproductive health from X-rays and exposure to chemicals
  • Increased risk of cancer from ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen

Strains and sprains are the most common types of animal-inflicted injuries after bites and scratches. In addition to lifting and moving animals, technicians are often called upon to lift heavy bags of dog food and other supplies.

Other serious medical conditions may arise as well. A study published in the British Medical Journal indicated that miscarriages were twice as likely to occur in female veterinarians exposed to insecticides and anesthetic gases on the job. Female animal clinic workers who performed six or more X-rays per week were 80 percent more likely to miscarry than those who did not use X-ray equipment.

What to Do If You are Injured

If you are injured on the job, obtain medical care and report the incident as soon as possible. If you miss work and intend to file a Workers’ Compensation claim, you will face deadlines for submitting the paperwork. Failure to meet the deadlines may jeopardize your eligibility for compensation.

Unfortunately, work-related illness or injury due to exposure to chemicals, gasses, or X-rays may not surface for months or years. It is important for workers facing these risks to conduct regular checkups and pursue medical help if symptoms arise. Workers need to report the medical condition to their employers as soon as they are aware that it is work-related.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Injured Animal Clinic Workers

If you were injured on the job, an experienced Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help you file a claim. We will review your case and obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve for your injuries. Contact us online or call us at 844-556-4LAW (4529) for a free consultation today. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.