In Montana, health care employs more than 50,000 health care providers and workers. That’s an enormous, potentially difference-making team on the front lines of the work-injury epidemic. And Montana needs your help.

First, the health care industry itself needs to work more safely. The work-injury and illness rate for health care in Montana was 57 percent higher than the average for health care workers nationally in 2007 (the most current available data). Given the sheer number of health care workers in Montana, that represents a significant addition to our poor performance.

Second, injured workers across all industries stay off the job an average of about 22 weeks in Montana—significantly longer than injured workers in other states. It isn’t because the injuries are more severe. The primary reason is a lack of coordinated effort to get injured employees healthy and back to work. Studies show that injured workers who stay away from the job longer tend to develop more complications and emotional problems than those who return to work earlier—even if that means performing meaningful limited or alternative tasks.

Health care as an industry has the power to make an enormous difference in Montana’s work-injury epidemic. You can value your own safety and improve your industry’s injury rate. And you can help workers heal faster and return to productive roles in their companies.

  1. Lead by example. Value safety in your workplace.
  2. Be well versed in proper incident reporting and follow-up.
  3. Encourage communication between injured workers and their employers.
  4. Look for opportunities to get an injured employee back on the job safely.