An increase in animal-related occupational injuries at a veterinary medical center (2008–2022)

Deidree S. Voss University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

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Melissa V. Boyd Veterinary Medical Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN

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Jessica F. Evanson Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN

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 DVM, MPH
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Jeff B. Bender University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

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 DVM, MS, DACVPM

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To characterize animal-related injuries in veterinary medical center staff at a veterinary medical center.

SAMPLE

706 hospital staff injuries.

METHODS

Deidentified injury reports were submitted to Human Resources from 2008 through 2022. Injury data collected included the injury description, date of injury, occupation, and worker’s compensation claim information. Data were summarized by year, cause of injury, total cost associated with injury, and occupation.

RESULTS

There was an increase in injuries reported in recent years when compared to past years, with the plurality of injuries being bite injuries, specifically occurring on the hand, finger, and wrist area. Bite injuries had a higher average total worker’s compensation cost paid to staff than striking injuries. There were more injuries reported by staff who had less experience working with animals. More injuries occurred during the summer months (June through September). There was not an unusual trend in the reporting of injuries due to COVID-19. Other injuries (eg, needlesticks and falls) were reported from only 2019 to 2022, but constituted a substantial burden for staff.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

These findings can help stakeholders at teaching hospitals and veterinary clinics to take steps toward creating a safer workplace environment for employees. It is important to identify work hazards and provide proper training and prevention methods to reduce the risk of injuries, especially among less experienced employees. Proper prevention methods will help reduce worker’s compensation costs for the teaching hospital and reduce the number of workdays missed by staff.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To characterize animal-related injuries in veterinary medical center staff at a veterinary medical center.

SAMPLE

706 hospital staff injuries.

METHODS

Deidentified injury reports were submitted to Human Resources from 2008 through 2022. Injury data collected included the injury description, date of injury, occupation, and worker’s compensation claim information. Data were summarized by year, cause of injury, total cost associated with injury, and occupation.

RESULTS

There was an increase in injuries reported in recent years when compared to past years, with the plurality of injuries being bite injuries, specifically occurring on the hand, finger, and wrist area. Bite injuries had a higher average total worker’s compensation cost paid to staff than striking injuries. There were more injuries reported by staff who had less experience working with animals. More injuries occurred during the summer months (June through September). There was not an unusual trend in the reporting of injuries due to COVID-19. Other injuries (eg, needlesticks and falls) were reported from only 2019 to 2022, but constituted a substantial burden for staff.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

These findings can help stakeholders at teaching hospitals and veterinary clinics to take steps toward creating a safer workplace environment for employees. It is important to identify work hazards and provide proper training and prevention methods to reduce the risk of injuries, especially among less experienced employees. Proper prevention methods will help reduce worker’s compensation costs for the teaching hospital and reduce the number of workdays missed by staff.

Introduction

Animal bites account for roughly 1% of all emergency department visits in the US, with 60% to 90% of those bites being from dogs and 5% to 20% being from cats.1 Animal-related injuries, specifically animal bites, are associated with infections and zoonotic diseases, making them a serious public health problem.24 Bite wounds, especially from cats, can lead to expensive, severe infections and complications in the wounded.1 In adults, cat bites occur most often on the hands and arms and can result in infections as a consequence of the cat’s tooth, which is often carrying bacteria, puncturing deep into the soft tissue.1 Most people are at risk for an animal-related injury in their lifetime, but veterinarians and veterinary staff have an elevated risk due to occupational exposure. In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that around 312,000 people were working in an animal-care setting as veterinarians, as veterinary technologists and technicians, and as veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers.57 Work-related injuries (eg, needlesticks, bites, and chemical burns) in veterinary staff are commonly observed, so it is important to implement adequate safety precautions and trainings to avoid unnecessary injury.

A study8 assessing risk factors (eg, muzzling, staff training, years of experience) associated with bite wounds found that 80 to 115 bite wounds were reported at a veterinary teaching hospital in Pennsylvania from 2000 to 2001. Numerous studies, including the aforementioned study, have been conducted to assess work-related injuries and risk factors in veterinarians. Many previously conducted studies have been cross-sectional studies, which are not able to encompass the incidence or temporality of injuries in veterinary staff associated with animal interactions. Studies regarding other veterinary staff, including students, who often have little to no experience working with certain species of animals (eg, horses) are limited. Teaching hospitals can be dangerous to work in for a variety of reasons, such as lack of experience, rushing through care responsibilities, and overestimating or underappreciating the risks for workplace hazards.8,9

Stakeholders and administrators at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center (UMN-VMC) expressed concern about a potential increase in animal-related injuries in recent years at the facilities within the UMN-VMC, initiating this investigation. For the purposes of this study, an animal-related injury was defined as being bitten or being struck by an animal or insect. The UMN-VMC annually sees around 35,000 companion animals and 4,000 large animals at their facility, which comprises 4 hospitals: the Lewis Small Animal Hospital, the Large Animal Hospital, the Piper Equine Hospital, and the West Metro Equine Practice.10 The Lewis Small Animal Hospital provides care for dogs, cats, and other companion animals while the Large Animal Hospital provides care for farm animals and zoo animals.10 The Piper Equine Hospital and the West Metro Equine Practice provide care for horses and general ambulatory care.10 An increase in animal-related injury could mean an increase in days missed at work, an increase in hospitalization, and an increase in worker’s compensation costs. Costs associated with claims from workers’ compensation requests can add up very quickly and be quite large for facilities, especially for claims associated with bite wounds. Preventing unnecessary injury and limiting missed days of work are critical to ensuring the health and safety of veterinary staff and students.

The objective of this study was to characterize animal-related injuries and examine worker’s compensation claims, in veterinary hospital staff and employees at the UMN-VMC teaching hospital.

Methods

Data collection

We analyzed a retrospective case series in which UMN-VMC staff injuries were collected from 2008 through 2022. Collected data were from a standardized First Report of Injury form. All data collected were used for analysis, as there were not any exclusion criteria for this study. This study was approved by the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board as a non–human subject study. The Human Resources injury record databases for the UMN-VMC were reviewed to identify injuries that occurred in hospital staff. There was no requirement to report minor injuries or “near miss” injuries (ie, encounters that almost resulted in an injury but did not). However, starting in 2019, injury reporting was more strongly encouraged by supervisors at staff meetings for all injuries, including “near miss” injuries. Other than stronger verbal encouragement, no systematic change occurred in the instructions for when to report an injury. Personal data from the injury reports were deidentified for analysis, and neither staff nor animals were specifically identifiable in the analyzed dataset. In addition to the UMN-VMC injury record databases used, the number of animal encounters was provided, allowing for annual incident rates to be calculated. Injury incident rate was only definable for 2019 through 2022 based on a separate database with animal encounters. It was possible that multiple people were exposed to a specific animal encounter resulting in injury. Each individual involved would be counted in the animal encounter.

Injury information recorded

Standardized data collected from the UMN-VMC were recoded using the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System to describe the injuries in a consistent manner.11 For each injury that was recorded, the following data were collected: injury description (eg, nature of injury, source of injury, cause of injury, and body part injured), date of injury, clinic and room location of injury, occupation of staff member injured, and worker’s compensation claim information (eg, type of claim and total cost associated with injury).

For analysis, the main outcome variable, cause of injury, was categorized as bitten, struck/injured by an animal or insect, and other injuries unrelated to an animal (eg, needlesticks or falls not directly caused by an animal). No insect injuries were reported in this study, but the name was still included in the categorization title to maintain consistency with the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System. This outcome variable included all injuries reported from 2008 through 2022. Injuries were subcategorized to analyze by severity of injury (ie, type of worker’s compensation claim reported) to examine total cost paid to the reporting staff member. The 3 internal types of worker’s compensation claims that were recorded are defined as follows:

  • Report only—Staff member received no medical treatment beyond first aid and did not receive payment of any kind.

  • Medical only—Staff member received medical care and may have received compensation for medical care costs, but did not receive payment for time away from work.

  • Indemnity—Staff member received payment for lost wages in addition to medical care costs.

Medical-only claims often received compensation for medical care that the staff received, although compensation was not guaranteed. Medical-only claims are similar to indemnity claims, although staff did not qualify to receive compensation for workdays missed. Indemnity claims resulted in compensation for medical expenses as well as workdays missed, which is often due to a more severe injury.

The body part injured of the staff member was categorized as hand, finger, and wrist area or other body part. This categorization was determined since the lower part of the arm, especially hands and fingers, is more at risk for injury when caring for animals in a clinic and hospital setting. The nature of the injury was categorized for analysis as puncture, laceration, contusion (eg, bruise, skin surface), fracture, and other wound/missing.

Occupation title was collected for each staff-reported injury. Occupation title can be indicative of experience level of a staff member due to position requirements. For analysis, these occupation titles were categorized in no particular order for levels of experience as follows: certified veterinary technician level 1 (CVT 1), certified veterinary technician level 5 (CVT 5), administration, DVM staff, DVM intern, DVM resident, laboratory, student worker, veterinary technician assistant (VTA), and other.

Descriptive analysis was conducted to examine initial injury trends present in the data and population of interest. Statistical analysis was conducted in OnDemand, version 9.4 (SAS Institute Inc).

Results

Injury incident rate

UMN-VMC census numbers for annual animal visits were available for 2019 through 2022, allowing for injury incident rates to be calculated. In 2019, there were 39,924 animal encounters and 112 injuries reported, resulting in an incident rate for injuries of 3 injuries/1,000 animal encounters; in 2020, there were 31,043 animal encounters and 111 injuries reported, resulting in an incident rate of 4 injuries/1,000 animal encounters; in 2021, there were 43,922 animal encounters and 122 injuries reported, resulting in an incident rate of 3 injuries/1,000 animal encounters; and in 2022, there were 37,578 animal encounters and 141 injuries reported, resulting in an incident rate of 4 injuries/1,000 animal encounters.

Overall injuries

There were 706 UMN-VMC staff injuries reported between 2008 and 2022. The injuries were summarized by the cause of injury reported (Table 1). The plurality of reported injuries were caused by bite injuries (304/706; 43.1%; Table 2). Beginning in 2019, supervisors were verbally reminded at meetings to strongly encourage their staff to report all injuries from work encounters, including “near miss” injuries. Despite there being no systematic change in the reporting of injuries, there was a substantial increase in injuries reported, regardless of the type of injury (Figure 1). There was a large increase in bite injuries reported between 2019 and 2022 compared to previous years. Of the location of injuries reported, the majority (403/706 [57.1%]) were reported to have occurred on the hand, finger, and wrist area. Sixty-one percent (247/403) of injuries located on the hand, finger, and wrist area were bite wounds. Fifty (354/706) percent of the injuries reported were puncture wounds, with 76% (269/354) of the puncture wounds being reported as bite injuries.

Table 1

Wound and hospital staff information by cause of injury, 2008 through 2022.

Bitten (n [%]) Struck/injured by animal or insect1 (n [%]) Other injury unrelated to animals2 (n [%]) Row total (%)
Body part
 Hands, fingers, and wrist area 247 (81.25) 81 (57.04) 75 (28.85) 403 (57.08)
 Other body part 57 (18.75) 61 (42.96) 185 (71.15) 303 (42.92)
Wound type
 Puncture 269 (88.49) 74 (52.11) 11 (4.23) 354 (50.14)
 Laceration 14 (4.61) 32 (22.54) 28 (10.77) 74 (10.48)
 Contusion (bruise, skin surface) 13 (4.28) 27 (19.01) 30 (11.54) 70 (9.92)
 Fracture 0 (0.00) 1 (0.70) 4 (1.54) 5 (0.71)
 Other wound or missing3 8 (2.63) 8 (5.63) 187 (71.92) 203 (28.75)
Worker’s compensation claim type
 Indemnity 8 (2.63) 7 (4.93) 25 (9.62) 40 (5.67)
 Report only 129 (42.43) 44 (30.99) 147 (56.54) 320 (45.33)
 Medical only 167 (54.93) 91 (64.08) 88 (33.85) 346 (49.01)
Occupation
 Admin 3 (0.99) 2 (1.41) 6 (2.31) 11 (1.56)
 CVT 1 152 (50.00) 45 (31.69) 20 (7.69) 217 (30.74)
 CVT 5 85 (27.96) 36 (25.35) 24 (9.23) 145 (20.54)
 DVM intern 3 (0.99) 7 (4.93) 1 (0.38) 11 (1.56)
 DVM resident 4 (1.32) 5 (3.52) 12 (4.62) 21 (2.97)
 DVM staff 12 (3.95) 8 (5.63) 16 (6.15) 36 (5.10)
 Lab 0 (0.00) 0 (0.00) 14 (5.38) 14 (1.98)
 Other 12 (3.95) 6 (4.23) 15 (5.77) 33 (4.67)
 Student worker 5 (1.64) 1 (0.70) 2 (0.77) 8 (1.13)
 Veterinary technician assistant 21 (6.91) 10 (7.04) 5 (1.92) 36 (5.10
 Missing 7 (2.30) 22 (15.49) 145 (55.77) 174 (24.65)

1Although the category name includes insects, no insects were involved in this report. 2Other injuries were reported for 2019 through 2022 only. 3Most missing reports were unrelated to animals.

Table 2

Cause of injury reported by year injury occurred, 2008 through 2022.

Cause of injury 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Bitten (%) 12 (100.00) 22 (78.57) 23 (95.83) 10 (76.92) 16 (64.00) 11 (64.71) 20 (76.92) 19 (76.00)
Struck/injured by animal or insect1 (%) 0 (0.00) 6 (21.43) 1 (4.17) 3 (23.08) 9 (36.00) 6 (35.29) 6 (23.08) 6 (24.00)
Other injury unrelated to animals2 (%)
Cause of injury 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Bitten (%) 18 (94.74) 14 (82.35) 13 (92.86) 39 (34.82) 34 (30.63) 17 (13.93) 36 (25.53)
Struck/injured by animal or insect1 (%) 1 (5.26) 3 (17.65) 1 (7.14) 34 (30.36) 31 (27.93) 19 (15.57) 16 (11.35)
Other injury unrelated to animals2 (%) 39 (34.82) 46 (41.44) 86 (70.49) 89 (63.12)

Results are presented as number of injuries reported and percentage.

1Although the category name includes insects, no insects were involved in this report. 2Other injury unrelated to animals was not reported between 2008 and 2018.

Figure 1
Figure 1

Cause of injury reported in staff, by year of injury report. The total count of injuries is reported in each year of the data, categorized by the cause of injury reported. Other injuries unrelated to animals were not reported between 2008 and 2018.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 262, 3; 10.2460/javma.23.08.0477

Worker’s compensation claims and total amount paid to staff

Forty-nine percent (346/706) of all staff injuries were classified as medical only in the type of worker’s compensation claim filed, while 5.7% (40/706) of worker’s compensation claims were filed as indemnity (Table 3). The average total amount paid to staff who filed an indemnity claim was $7,451.36 (SD, $14,295.59), with the highest amount paid out being $77,367.58. The average total amount paid to staff who filed a medical-only claim was $304.66 (SD, $613.01), with the highest amount paid out being $7,753.60.

Table 3

Type of worker’s compensation claim filed for injury report.

Insurance claim type n Mean (SD) Maximum
Indemnity 40 $7,451.36 ($14,295.59) $77,367.58
Medical only 346 $304.66 ($613.01) $7,753.60
Report only 320 $0.00 ($0.00) $0.00

Indemnity claims are claims in which the staff member received payment for lost wages in addition to medical care costs from the injury. Medical-only claims are claims in which the staff member did not receive payment for lost wages but was compensated for their medical costs. Report-only claims are claims in which the staff member did not receive any compensation for lost wages or have medical care costs covered from the injury.

The average total amount paid for an injury that occurred to the hand, finger, and wrist area was $672.93 (SD, $2,545.50), with the highest amount paid out being $27,327.22. The average total amount paid to a staff member for a bite injury was $764.38 (SD, $3,099.53), with the highest amount paid out being $27,327.22. The average total amount paid to a staff member reporting an injury caused by a striking event was $474.01 (SD, $1,078.33), with the highest amount paid out being $7,753.60. The average total amount paid to staff who had an injury unrelated to an animal was $2,007.51 (SD, $8,474.10), with the maximum paid out being $77,367.58.

Occupation title and total amount paid to staff

Ten occupation titles were reported from 532 staff members (number missing = 174). The majority of missing occupation titles were reported as being caused by incidents unrelated to animals (n = 145). Of the 10 occupations, CVT 1 had the highest number of injuries overall (217/706 [30.7%]; Table 1 and Figure 2). Seventy percent (152/217) of all CVT 1 injuries were reported as bite injuries, and 20.7% (45/217) of injuries were reported as striking injuries. CVT 1 staff had an average total amount paid of $1,033.80 (SD, $4,218.68) and a maximum amount paid of $39,341.94. CVT 5 staff had the second-highest number of injuries reported overall (145/706 [20.5%]). Fifty-nine percent (85/145) of CVT 5 injuries were reported as bite injuries, and 24.8% (36/145) of injuries were reported as striking injuries. CVT 5 staff had an average total amount paid of $574.98 (SD, $2,376.75) and a maximum of $20,656.56.

Figure 2
Figure 2

Staff occupation by cause of injury. All injuries are reported as the cause of the injury and the occupation title of the staff member reporting the injury. There are 174 missing occupation titles, with most of those values being caused by incidents unrelated to animals.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 262, 3; 10.2460/javma.23.08.0477

DVM intern and resident positions combined reported a total of 32 injuries (4.5%), while DVM staff positions reported a total of 36 injuries (5.1%). DVM staff had a higher number of bite injuries reported (12/36 [33.3%]) than DVM interns and residents (21.9%). DVM interns received an average total amount paid of $2,247.64 (SD, $4,279.63), with a maximum amount paid out being $14,213.79. DVM residents had an average total amount paid of $754.53 (SD, $2,003.46), with a maximum amount paid being $9,307.98. DVM staff had an average total amount paid of $3,280.28 (SD, $13,801.42) with a maximum amount paid out being $77,367.58.

Seasonality of injuries

There appeared to be a seasonal trend in total animal-related injuries reported when analyzed based on month of injury report, with a spike in reports during the summer months of June through September (Figure 3). July and August had the highest number of injuries reported by staff (July, 75/706 [10.6%]; August, 72/706 [10.2%]), with the highest number of bite injuries being reported during these months (July, 37/304 [12.2%]; August, 36/304 [11.8%]).

Figure 3
Figure 3

Seasonal trends for bite and striking injuries reported by staff between 2008 and 2022. With bites and striking injuries caused by animals combined, July and August have the highest number of injuries reported.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 262, 3; 10.2460/javma.23.08.0477

2020 and COVID-19

November had the lowest number of injuries reported in 2020 (1/111), followed closely by March, with only 3 injuries reported (3/111). As seen in other years, July was the month with the highest number of injuries reported (16/111). Forty-four percent of the injuries reported in July 2020 were bite injuries (7/16), while 12.5% of July injuries were striking injuries (2/16).

Discussion

There were several important findings after reviewing animal-related injuries reported in the UMN-VMC teaching hospital staff. First, there was an increase of animal-related injuries reported in recent years (2019 through 2022) when compared to past years (2008 through 2018). Second, the plurality of injuries reported were bite injuries, with a majority of those bite injuries being on the hand, finger, and wrist area. Third, bite injuries had a higher average total worker’s compensation cost paid to staff than striking injuries, although other injuries unrelated to animals had the highest average total worker’s compensation cost paid to staff. Fourth, there appeared to be a seasonal trend in injury reports, with more injuries occurring in the summer months (June through September) than other seasons. Finally, there were more injury reports reported by staff members who had less experience working with animals (eg, CVT 1 vs CVT 5).

In Minnesota, a staff member must be out of work for longer than 3 days to receive payment for lost wages.12 The number of days out of work to qualify for payment of lost wages varies depending on the state. Generally, indemnity claims are associated with more severe injuries, which result in the staff member being out of work for a longer period of time and a larger amount of money being paid in lost wages. Medical-only claims result in a range of injury severity and are reported in an attempt to receive compensation for medical care as a result of injury. These claims are similar to indemnity, but they do not meet the criterion of staff being out of work for longer than 3 days, and they do not always result in compensation. Report-only claims are filed solely for documentation, as staff do not miss days of work and only receive first aid for medical care.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UMN-VMC has had limited access to their facilities, meaning only essential workers and personnel are allowed inside the building for appointments. We were interested to see how these rules of limited access impacted the number of injuries reported. Patient visits remained similar before and during the pandemic, with the exception of a decline in visits during 2020. Some animals may experience separation anxiety when their owner is not allowed in for an appointment, especially during times of pain or discomfort (ie, when they are sick or injured). Separation anxiety may increase the likelihood of an animal being hostile, which could lead them to injuring a staff member. When the COVID-19 statewide restrictions were first implemented in March 2020, there was a decrease in the number of injuries reported, likely due to everyone staying home. After this initial reduction in reports, injuries increased in the following months, with a large increase in bite injuries in the month of July. Despite owners not being allowed in for appointments and a curbside drop-off and pickup method being used for patients, there were no unusual trends detected in the reporting of injuries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Occupation titles are often indicative of employee experience levels because of certain requirements that are necessary to hold a position. Some positions may require at least 5 years of experience or a special certification to attain a certain occupation title, while other titles may require only 1 year of experience at most. Experience levels range widely within veterinary facilities, although this is especially true in teaching hospital settings with professors, veterinarians, and student workers present.

At the UMN-VMC, CVT 1 has one of the lowest experience levels necessary for employment while also being the occupation that does most of the hands-on work with animals. CVT 1 staff reported the highest number of injuries overall at the UMN-VMC while also reporting the most bite wound injuries. CVT 5 staff have at least 5 years of experience but reported the second-highest number of injuries at the UMN-VMC. These results may be due to more contact time with animals than other occupations, although hours worked could not be determined with the data provided, or the results may be indicative of less experienced positions being associated with more frequent injuries.

As was found in previous studies, bite injuries played a large role in reported staff injuries, leading to expensive worker’s compensation payouts. This study supports previous findings that injuries occur more frequently in staff members with less experience.13,14 Furthermore, striking injuries were found to play a large role in reported staff injuries as well, although bite injuries were of higher frequency at the UMN-VMC than striking injuries, contrary to findings of other studies.14

Many previously conducted studies have been cross-sectional studies, which were not able to encompass the incidence or temporality of injuries in veterinary staff associated with animal interactions. Being a retrospective case series, this study builds on the foundation that animals cause expensive injuries in veterinary staff by examining injuries reported by staff within a teaching hospital. Teaching hospitals are inherently dangerous due to staff experience levels ranging widely, with many of the employees having less experience than at other facilities. By using a retrospective case series with a larger sample size than past studies over a longer period of time, we were able to examine more accurate proportions of injuries in the teaching hospital staff. This study’s findings are consistent with other studies by capturing and reporting on the impact that animal-related injuries can have on veterinary staff.

There were several limitations to this study. The strength of being a retrospective case series is reduced by not having information on the amount of animal exposure that the staff member had at the time of the injury (ie, hours worked), so prevalence could not be determined from the data provided. Thus, the data reported are solely descriptive. The species of animal that caused the staff injury could not be determined from the data provided. Species information would be integral for creating proper safety measures and training for staff by indicating where training and prevention measures need to be taken (eg, utilizing muzzles and hand guards during visits). Species information would also be beneficial in the analysis of which species cause more severe, and therefore costly, injuries in staff over time.

Reporting of injuries is variable due to a number of factors, including personal approaches and attitudes to injuries, encouragement from management, education and training, and severity of injuries. There was a bigger push from management and supervisors to report all work-related injuries that began in 2019. In the years with more verbal encouragement to report injuries, there appeared to be an increase in injuries reported; however, no systematic change in reporting occurred. Due to injuries being variable, there may be gaps in data as a result of staff not reporting minor injuries, especially in the years prior to the verbal encouragement from safety staff and supervisors that began in 2019.

Experience level was determined based on the occupation title the staff member reported. Years of experience vary within occupation title, meaning some staff may have more or less years of experience than what is considered average for someone holding that position. We were not able to use hours worked as a denominator to fully determine the amount of exposure each staff member had at the time their injury occurred; however, this is something that we would like to explore in future studies.

From this descriptive analysis, it was found that there was an increase in animal-related injuries in recent years, likely due to staff and supervisory encouragement. This study supports previous work and builds on those findings by analyzing data from teaching hospital staff rather than only veterinary staff at general hospitals and clinics. Our findings can help stakeholders at the UMN-VMC take steps toward creating a safer workplace environment for employees by providing proper training and other prevention methods to reduce the risk of injuries, especially among less experienced employees. In future studies, it would be beneficial to collect the hours worked by staff to calculate hours worked in relation to work injuries as well as the species of animal that caused the injury, to assist in the creation of stronger training and prevention methods for staff. Proper prevention methods will help reduce worker’s compensation costs and reduce the number of workdays missed.

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Laura Larson, Human Resources Director, College of Veterinary Medicine, for her input and guidance.

Disclosures

The authors have nothing to disclose. No AI-assisted technologies were used in the generation of this manuscript.

Funding

The authors have nothing to disclose.

References

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