Nursing is a physically strenuous job. Nurses and aides spend many hours moving, lifting, bathing and transferring patients. A McHenry worker compen attorney is aware that these activities can lead to severe injury.
High risk of lifting injuries
According to the American Nurses Association, as many as 38 percent of U.S. nurses suffer from back injuries related to their work. ANA research shows that repeated lifting is the single most dangerous activity undertaken by nurses. Other risks such as HIV exposure and violent attacks by patients are more sensational and receive more news coverage, but lifting injuries cause the most hours of work lost every year. In some cases, they can end a nurse’s career.
Lifting injuries by the numbers
Current statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal the scope of the problem among American nurses. CDC statistics include the following:
- More than 11,900 nurses are temporarily disabled each year because of musculoskeletal disorders related to work duties.
- Registered nurses in America currently have an average age of 44. This average is rising each year.
- Soaring rates of obesity, up to 35 percent in some states such as West Virginia and Mississippi, contribute to lifting injuries among nurses who must care for obese patients.
- The increased strain on nurses is projected to cause a gap between supply and demand of nursing staff, creating more than 250,000 unfilled positions within the next decade.
The message of these statistics is clear: lifting trauma is a major hazard for nurses.
Decreasing lifting injuries on the job
Nurses cannot avoid lifting patients, but they can use technology and training to make it a less dangerous task. Ergonomic renovation in the workplace is a safe and efficient way to help nurses avoid injury. Small changes to bed heights, chair designs, toilets and showers can make daily activities safer for patients and the professionals who care for them. Special training is required for nurses who interact on a daily basis with severely obese patients, as a McHenry worker compen attorney knows.
Using machinery to lighten the load
Many modern devices are available to help nurses decrease the risk of back injury. Mechanical lifts, including full sling lifts, may be necessary to help move completely dependent patients or people whose body weight makes an unassisted transfer impossible. Nurses have the right to use these devices when needed.
Caring for incapacitated patients can be hard on the body. Injured nurses should consider discussing their case with a McHenry worker comp attorney.