When individuals consider dangerous occupations, the medical field is probably not one of the first to come to mind. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, when it comes to work related injuries, nursing ranks right below commonly recognized risky professions like law enforcement officers, fire fighters and highway maintenance workers. In fact, in 2014 alone, approximately 372 nursing assistants suffered reported work related injuries.
Musculoskeletal disorders, which are commonly triggered by lifting or moving patients, are the biggest source of work related injuries in the medical field seen by the average worker compensation attorney in Crystal Lake. Such injuries often become debilitating, extremely painful, and can sometimes even mean the end of a worker's career. Even so, worker safety advocates assert that very few service providers have taken steps to reduce hazards in the field.
Fortunately, a new Bill proposed by Representative John Conyers in December of 2015 will require employers to implement systems to help protect health care workers from such injuries. The legislation, which would require the United States Department of Labor to mandate health care facilities to create safe patient handling policies, would include things like installing patient lifts and protecting health care workers who refuse to perform unsafe duties in the workplace. Currently, unlike manufacturing and construction industries, the health care field has very few standards that are designed to protect workers from becoming injured on the job.
Although the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that when it comes to lifting patients, there should be a 35 pound weight limit, most nurses exceed that limit routinely. According to occupational health experts, without the assistance of mechanical equipment, tasks like transferring patients, turning patients or otherwise physically supporting patients weight can lead to serious injuries.
While Douglas Erickson, vice president of the Facility Guidelines Institute asserts that mandating the installation of fixed lifting equipment will result in high costs that will "waste a tremendous amount of healthcare resources", Randall Taradash, a worker compensation attorney in Crystal Lake begs to differ.
According to Taradash, "Evidence already exists proving that facilities that have implemented safe patient handling programs have significantly reduced the number of worker compensation claims, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each year".