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Today’s health care workers hold undeniably risky positions, and numerous parts of the job description regularly expose them to illness or injury. While some of the risks today’s health care workers face stem from working near ill and violent patients and violent patient family members or loved ones, others stem from moving patients unable to move themselves.
Per Healthcare Business & Technology, the most significant injury risk faced by modern health care workers comes from moving immobile patients. Moving immobile patients places a strain on health care workers even under the best of conditions, so much so that nurses, alone, suffer about 35,000 back and musculoskeletal injuries annually bad enough to keep them out of work.
Causes and possible solutions
So, why do today’s health care workers face such a heightened risk of suffering lifting-related injuries, and is there anything your employer can do to mitigate your injury risk? Part of the problem with lifting patients is that, when doing so, workers are often moving them from bed to another location. It is common knowledge that it is easier on the body to lift something when it is close to you, but nurses and other health care workers can only get so close when lifting a patient out of bed.
Making things even harder in many health care environments is that, while many employers encourage team lifting to reduce injuries, there are simply not always enough workers around to help out. Some employers work to prevent lifting-related injuries in health care settings by investing in lift-assistance equipment, which takes some of the strain off workers. Such equipment often comes with a hefty price tag, though, so for some employers, purchasing this equipment is not financially feasible.
If you have concerns about developing lifting-related injuries at work, ask your employer what you can do to reduce your risk, as employers have a duty to protect you to the fullest extent possible.