Nurses and Back Injuries in the Workplace
April 22, 2015
According to the Occupational Safety Health Administration, hospitals in the United States are one of the most dangerous workplaces. OSHA statistics report 6.8 work-related injuries for every 100 full-time employees in 2011. These numbers show, in terms of lost time at work cases, that working in a hospital is more hazardous that working in manufacturing or construction.
How common are nursing injuries?
Of the top five most common injuries among hospital workers, 48% are the result of over-exertion, which includes lifting, bending or reaching related to patient handling. In 2011, there were 16,680 cases in which hospital workers missed work due to musculoskeletal injuries related to patient handling, and nurse and nursing assistants accounted for a significant share of that total.
Nurses and back injuries
Nurses and nursing assistants lift, move and carry patients as a part of their daily tasks. As a result of the stress of constant overexertion, back injuries are far too common for nurses. Nurses can get injured due to the cumulative effect of years of bending and lifting heavy patients, or from a single injury.
In a University of Ohio study, investigators measured the spinal load pressure during various routine tasks related to patient handling. All of the methods of transferring and repositioning patients that were studied placed the nurses in a high-risk group for back injury.
Prevention of back injuries for nurses
The University of Ohio study found that these injuries to nurses can be prevented by the implementation of lift teams who are responsible for all body transfers, and the use of mechanical lift equipment. By employing lift teams and equipment, injuries were reduced, and the total number of lost days and modifications of duty were reduced by 361% in a year-long pilot study.
Are safe patient handling techniques enough to keep nurses safe?
In a story on NPR, ‘Even ‘Proper’ Technique Exposes Nurses’ Spines To Dangerous Forces,’ reporter Daniel Zwerdling visited a research center on the Ohio State University campus he spoke to William Marras, director of the Spine Research Institute at the University. Marras conducted a landmark study on how hospital staff can lift and move patients more safely to prevent injuries. After decades of study and the development of mechanical equipment for moving patients, Marras said, “The bottom line is, there’s no safe way to lift a patient manually. There’s no safe way to do it with body mechanics.”
If you work in the healthcare industry and you have suffered an injury on the job, whether it is a cumulative injury or from a single incident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you have lost time from work due to your work-related injury.
Consider contacting a Philadelphia workers compensation attorney who will fight for the highest possible compensation available to you under Pennsylvania law.
Please call 888.PITT.LAW or fill out our form to schedule an initial consultation at one of Larry Pitt & Associates’ multiple office locations serving Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.