Working in any type of health care environment presents certain inherent risks, with nurses, nursing assistants and others in the industry regularly experiencing a wide range of work-related injuries and ailments. While working around sick people and regularly using needles and other potentially hazardous medical equipment can lead to injuries, one of the most substantial risks you face working in health care involves moving heavy patients.
According to Healthcare Business & Technology, injuries caused by lifting patients are the single-biggest threat facing today’s health care workers. Injuries caused by this action are so commonplace, in fact, that American nurses, alone, suffer more than 35,000 back and musculoskeletal injuries every year serious enough to prevent them from working. Furthermore, nurses are more likely to suffer injuries than workers in all other jobs that involve physical labor, exclusively.
Proper lifting techniques only help so much
Because so many nurses and other health care workers experience back, neck and other injuries when lifting, many hospitals and other health care settings instruct their workers on proper lifting techniques in an effort to reduce these types of injuries. However, research indicates that using proper lifting techniques only helps so much and that even health care workers who consistently utilize proper lifting practices still face lifting-related risks.
Why? Even when you do utilize proper lifting techniques, such as bending your knees and keeping your back straight, you still place a serious strain on your back anytime you attempt to lift a heavy object or person. Other factors, too, make moving patients particularly dangerous. It is easier to move things, for example, when they are close to your body, but because patients are typically lying in bed on their backs, it is virtually impossible to get close enough to them to prevent all lifting-related injuries.
Increasingly, hospitals, doctor’s offices and similar settings are investing in mechanical lift assistance equipment to help take some of the pressure off nurses and other workers. If you have concerns about lifting injuries in your place of business, find out whether your employer plans to implement such equipment.