Nurses are far more likely to be injured on the job than any other occupation in the American workforce. Bureau of Labor statistics show nurses are injured at twice the average rate of other occupations. In 2013, 58,000 nurses were injured while carrying out work duties. Many nurses are injured by musculoskeletal injuries caused by lifting and moving patients or equipment. For some, the injuries can lead to early retirement.
In a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch
article, nursing injuries were described through the story of a career-nurse who had to leave her occupation due to musculoskeletal injuries. According to the nurse, her injuries became so severe, that she had difficulty walking to her car every day. The pain eventually became unbearable, and she was forced into an early retirement.
How did this happen? After years of moving beds, heavy equipment, patients and constantly walking, her back, knees and feet could no longer take the physical rigors of a job in nursing. Her story is not unique. Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced plans to prevent similar injuries among nurses.
How Can Hospitals Help Prevent Overexertion Injuries?
In the past, OSHA has warned hospitals about dangerous lifting practices, but nurses are still being injured. OSHA will now consider monitoring lifting practices while carrying out investigations of hospitals. As an organization with limited resources, OSHA cannot be everywhere at once.
Hospitals will also have to play a significant role in helping prevent injuries. Some hospitals have already adapted, implementing heavy-duty slings that can lift and move patients onto hospital gurneys. These innovations are better suited for avoiding future injuries among nurses.
Many hospitals are also including safe lifting practices into job training curriculum. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before the health care industry knows whether these new practices are successful.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC
– Columbus Workers’ Comp Attorneys