Health care workers at risk of serious injuries

On Behalf of The Law Offices of Goldfine & Bowles, P.C.

December 1, 2017

Peoria nurses, aides, orderlies and other direct care providers can seriously injure themselves by improperly lifting and moving patients. These workplace injuries can be career-limiting, or even cause health care professionals to be unable to work at all.

Musculoskeletal injuries common for direct care workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration stated on their website that in 2010, 27,020 incidents involving injuries of the musculoskeletal systems occurred to health care workers in the United States. That breaks down to roughly 249 on-the-job injuries for every 10,000 workers in that industry. That ratio is seven times higher than the overall average for all of the nation’s industries. 

Most of these musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) occur when health care workers attempt manual transfers of their patients. However, even repositioning patients can cause severe damage, especially if the patients are obese or are in cramped postures.

High-risk patient handling tasks include all of the following:

  • Changing bed linens with patients in the hospital bed
  • Toileting transfers
  • Side-to-side repositioning
  • Transfers from tub to bed or chair

Common MSD injuries

It should come as no surprise that the lower back bears the brunt of many of these workplace injuries. But health care workers also frequently suffer strains and sprains to the shoulders as well.

The workers are employed in various departments in hospitals, diagnostic centers and long-term care facilities. Injuries often happen when the medical center or nursing home lacks the proper equipment that would alleviate the necessity of so much heavy lifting.

Companies have a duty to their workers

If workers get injured on the job while in the course of carrying out their usual and customary duties, the companies that employ them may be liable for any damages. In the most minor incidents, this might be approving payments from workers’ compensation during the injured employees’ convalescence.

However, it may also include covering any medical bills for doctors’ care, hospital, surgery and rehabilitation. If a worker suffers permanent, disabling injuries, he or she could also be awarded a large monetary settlement and/or receive training in another type of industry where heavy lifting and manual labor is not required.