Places like hospitals and doctor’s offices where people go to get well are among the most common places for workplace injuries, according to a new U.S. Department of Labor study. The federal agency says that healthcare workers like nurses’ assistants have some of the highest incidence of workplace injuries in the American workforce.
One-third of workplace injuries and illnesses are musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs. These include injuries like pinched nerves, herniated discs, carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains and strains. Workers can get injured this way through physical overexertion, perhaps by lifting or pushing heavy objects, or performing repetitive motions.
Nurses’ assistants push and lift patients all the time, so it is maybe no surprise that they have the highest rate of MSDs of any job in the country, more than laborers, semi truck drivers, and even their colleagues, registered nurses.
In addition, workplace violence is a major risk for healthcare workers. Patients and their family members sometimes attack nurses’ assistants, causing them injury. Falls were another common source of workplace harm.
Often, nurses’ assistants must physically exert themselves with little time to prepare. One Pennsylvania nurses’ assistant hurt her back rolling a deceased patient up a pair of ramps that were separated by a 90-degree turn. She said the hospital she works at is usually understaffed, and often there is little time to do things the safest way.
When an injury occurs, healthcare workers may be able to turn to workers’ compensation to help make up for lost wages and medical bills that pile up during their recovery.