Last month, attorney Leonard Jernigan wrote that “Nursing Facilities Have Higher Incidence Of Workplace Injury Than Construction.” In my practice, I frequently see work-related injuries in both construction and nursing. Although I often handle workers’ compensation and personal injury claims for workers in both industries, I still found the statistics concerning injuries in nursing facilities to be very interesting.
Each of these jobs carries significant safety risks. In construction, workers face a risk of fatal injuries, such as falls from heights and trench collapses. Within the healthcare industry, workers face a number of severe, nonfatal injury risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
Health care workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including needlestick injuries, back injuries, latex allergy, violence, and stress.
Over the years, I have met and helped many healthcare workers who suffered severe back injuries. Such injuries are far too common. Also, they often result in severe disability. An article in the American Journal of Critical Care, by Deborah X. Brown, highlights the high risk of back injury among healthcare workers and the toll such injuries are producing. According to the article:
Every single day in the United States, 9000 healthcare workers sustain a disabling injury while performing work-related tasks. Disabling back injury and back pain affect 38% of nursing staff.
. . .
In the 1998 Bureau of Labor Statistics ranking of the professions at the highest risk for back injury, healthcare workers accounted for 6 of the top 10 positions. An obvious conclusion would be that these injuries are contributing, at least in part, to the current nursing shortage.
Many of the severe and disabling back injuries suffered in nursing facilities result from lifting and moving patients. The risk of significant injury is also greatly increased by the frequent staffing shortages in many facilities. Simple measures by nursing facilities to help their workers could prevent many of these needless injuries.
by Jeff Blackwell