Nursing staff, including assistants and orderlies, contribute a disproportionate number of back and other injuries to national statistics. Surveys by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics show that nursing staff actually suffer roughly three times as many back and other musculoskeletal injuries as construction workers. Looking purely at injury numbers, nurses beat out warehouse workers, truckers and stock clerks.
William Marras, director of The Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, attributes the high rate of injuries in nursing jobs to the everyday tasks of being a nurse, including moving and lifting patients. He asserts that there is no safe way to lift a patient manually, no matter what method is used, because the magnitude of force placed on the spine is too high.
Employers have a duty to protect employees from injury. Yet only a small number of hospitals are instituting policies to protect this vulnerable class of workers. Hospitals in Florida, for example, have developed an approach utilizing special machinery to lift patients not unlike the equipment used in construction to transport heavy parts, but technologies such as these are slow in making their way to most American hospitals.
David Michaels, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) noted that OSHA’s powers have been so limited by Congress and the courts that there is little the organization can do to goad hospitals into providing more protection. Our workers’ compensation attorneys provide several resources for workers suffering from workplace back injuries.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers’ Comp Attorneys