When you make your living in health care, you face numerous on-the-job hazards that have the potential to threaten your overall health. While some of the risks you face are illness-related, others involve specific injuries, and some of the most substantial injury risks you face working in health care involve lifting heavy patients.
According to Healthcare Business & Technology, health care workers, nurses, specifically, face heightened risks of suffering back, shoulder and other musculoskeletal injuries because of their job duties and work environments. Nurses are so at risk of suffering these types of injuries, in fact, that they report about 35,000 of them every year. Take note, though, that this figure refers to the number of back and musculoskeletal injuries reported by nurses, suggesting that the true number of injuries, including those not reported, may be significantly higher.
Technique only helps so much
Chances are, you underwent at least some sort of training concerning proper lifting techniques when you began working for your employer. You may have heard, too, that there are certain things you can do, such as lifting heavy items when they are close to your body and performing “team lifting” whenever possible, to reduce your risk of a lifting-related injury.
However, certain factors common in many hospitals and other medical settings can make taking these precautions difficult. For example, when you have to move patients, you must frequently do so when they lay down, and you can only get so close to a patient when trying to lift him or her out of bed. Similarly, understaffing is a common issue in many nursing homes and other health care environments, and this can make “team lifting” virtually impossible.
Back and musculoskeletal injuries have the potential to negatively impact many areas of your life. Increasingly, many health care employers are purchasing lift-assistance equipment to help protect their nurses and other staff members from lifting-related injuries.