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Put your back into it: nursing workers face high risk of injury

Workers in every industry face at least some risk of injury, though workers in some industries clearly face higher risks. Surprising it is to some that nursing would be near the top of the list in terms of dangerous industries, and yet it is true. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year workers in nursing suffer over 35,000 back and other injuries serious enough to require missing work.

Nursing assistants are particularly at risk, and suffer more injuries than those in any other industry, including those of construction, trucking, and warehouse work. What exactly makes nursing such a risky industry in terms of workplace injury? Those who are in the field know that is lifting and otherwise moving patients which is to blame. Insurance experts say that the majority of workers’ compensation payments from hospitals involve nursing workers who are hurt while lifting a patient. 

Although a small part of the risk may be due to poor training in proper body mechanics, some experts say that there really is no such thing as safely lifting a patient by hand. Many health care institutions have therefore invested in mechanical lifts to prevent injuries among nursing staff. The problem is that many institutions have not taken such steps or otherwise done enough to invest in the safety of their nursing staff. The reasons behind this would require a whole other discussion.  

One of the fortunate realities for nursing workers in California is that the legislature passed the Hospital Patient and Health Care Workers Injury Protection Act back in 2012. In our next post, we’ll pick up on this point and continue our discussion of workplace injury among nursing workers.

Source: Texas Public Radio, “Hospitals Fail To Protect Nursing Staff From Becoming Patients,” Daniel Zwedling, Feb. 4, 2015. 

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