As a nurse, nursing assistant or similar type of health care worker, you probably understand quite well just how common aches, pains and injuries are in your line of work. What you may not realize, though, is just how risky it is to repeatedly move heavy patients, even though this may be a regular part of your job.
According to Healthcare Business & Technology, lifting patients is so dangerous for health care workers that it has become the single-biggest injury risk for today’s nurses. Furthermore, U.S. nurses now report experiencing more than 35,000 back and musculoskeletal injuries every year that are serious enough to prevent them from coming to work.
The team-lifting conundrum
Some hospitals and other health care operations ask that their nurses and other health care workers perform team lifting to help spread out a patient’s weight and reduce the strain on a single individual. However, many of these work environments also suffer from chronic understaffing, meaning it is often hard to find a full team of people to help you when you need lifting assistance.
Also, injury risks exist even when you do lift patients as a team. When you engage in team lifting, you still run the risk of compressing the discs on your back, which may result in considerable pain and time spent out of work.
Recommended safety measures
So, what may you do to help protect yourself on the job and reduce your risk of back and musculoskeletal injuries? Increasingly, hospitals and clinics are purchasing lift-assistance equipment, which does most of the lifting and hard work for you. Mechanical lift-assistance equipment is not cheap, though, and not all health care operations have room for it in their budgets.
While lift-assistance equipment is expensive, it may serve health care organizations well to invest in it. Without it, they may end up spending even more on workers’ compensation costs than they would have on the equipment in the first place.