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Orderlies and nursing assistants at greater risk of injury

Medcitynews.com has reported the on-the-job dangers for nurses, often due to heaving lifting. It is also a likely blessing that injured workers, including nurses, can seek remedy via the state’s workers’ compensation system.

What may be less reported, however, is the injuries sustained by orderlies and nursing assistants.

Nursing assistants and orderlies may be in the most danger

As related by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is part of the United States’ Department of Labor, injuries to hospital orderlies exceed injuries to firefighters. Moreover, nursing assistants suffer more injuries than correctional officers and police.

With regard to the numbers, the BLS puts nursing assistants as the professionals injured more than any other occupation. To put it into further perspective, NPR reported that the rate of injury to the back, and other injuries of the musculoskeletal system of orderlies and nursing assistants triple the rate that they occur with construction workers. The single biggest reason for the injuries was simply doing their everyday work tasks of lifting and moving their patients.

NPR further showed a 2013 study where the number of nursing assistants injured was nearly quadruple the number of injured registered nurses, although, in that year, orderlies’ injuries exceeded even the nursing assistants.

No safe way to lift and move heavy patients

According to the University of Ohio’s Spine Research Institute, there is no back-safe way to manually lift a patient. When doing so, the extent of the force that sits on the spine is too much, regardless of whether the lifter is using properly performed body mechanics. The lifting with the legs advice of the past will not prevent eventual injury.

Lifting machinery may be the best answer

What may help to a degree is the use of lifting machinery. Some hospitals have reduced injuries by implementing a method called safe patient handling. It entails using special machinery to do the patient, akin to motorized hoists used in other industries for lifting or moving heavy objects. There has also been more training of the staff. However, it seems that most hospitals have not yet followed suit. This is so despite the fact that patient-moving machinery has been in existence since at least the 1800s.

There may be a lack of prioritization of the welfare of the various nurse and orderly related workers that is slowing up hospitals’ improvement of the safety of this workplace.

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