Going to the dentist or doctor might not be the favorite pastime of many Americans, but these professionals provide critical services to families and individuals, and, like workers across industries, are exposed to unique risks in their workplaces.
“There’s a lot of intensity behind what they’re doing, so we do see people that are working sometimes in pretty stressful situations,” said AmTrust Financial Services’ senior vice president of workers’ compensation strategy Matt Zender, adding that common exposures include strain from repetitive motion and pricks from scissors, needles, and other sharp objects. “It’s not an industry that is without hazard, but it is an industry that we’re very favorable towards.”
According to the expert, the workspaces of professionals in doctors’ and dentists’ offices share a surprising similarity to another type of worker in a totally different industry that AmTrust explored in its Restaurant Risk Report. Among coffee shop workers, the report found that wrist injuries are the biggest danger, and the so-called “barista wrist” results in an average of 366 days to return to work.
“It’s not unlike what we found with the baristas,” said Zender. “Baristas were having a higher preponderance of wrist injuries and when we were studying why that was, it had a lot to do with the close, confined working spaces that they were in, and some awkward reaching in and working around.”
Similarly, if you’re a dental hygienist, you’re probably working in a smaller space and sometimes reaching around the dentist from a certain, less than ideal position. However, unlike baristas, many professionals working in dentists’ and doctors’ offices are likely coming from an educational program that has prepared them specifically for this work. This characteristic, among others, can have a positive impact on workers’ compensation loss trends.
“You’re talking about individuals that have clearly established this as a career and clearly have a lot of technical training in what they’re doing,” explained Zender. “They’re more likely to work safely and they’re more likely to be highly motivated to return to work in the event of a claim. In some cases, the principals of these operations – the dentist or the doctor themselves – are highly compensated and they will be receiving only a fraction of what they would otherwise while they’re off work.”
After all, it’s their business – it’s what they’ve built and it’s what they love – so often, they’re going to work as hard as they can to get back to work as quickly as possible, added Zender.
As with other industries with which AmTrust has workers’ compensation experience, the insurer offers a number of online tools that the team encourages policyholders in this space to watch and read, especially since the ways that they can avoid claims can be very specific to their industry, depending on what their employees are doing within a medical office.
“Someone who’s working as an X-ray tech or MRI tech might have lifting concerns, so you want to make sure that you’re employing proper lifting techniques,” said Zender, giving an example. “There’s also a lot of general things that work across the medical space and we encourage your policyholders to [become familiar with] those.”