Healthcare workers are a mainstay in California hospitals, clinics and residential care facilities. Nurses, technicians and clinical assistants frequently handle patients lifting their bodies, moving around equipment to provide care and assisting some with activities of daily living. Over time, these activities can cause pain in the lower back or result in another injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the growing number of obese patients has negatively affected healthcare workers. Because of the awkward positions healthcare workers must be in to shift and move patients, the heavy lifting can cause musculoskeletal disorders in the worker.
Safe patient handling and lifting can help mitigate some of the risk associated with moving patients, however, moving patients is not the only hazards workers face. Employees can slip and fall on spilled fluids such as blood or IV fluid. Some patients can become violent and physically harm an employee trying to help them.
OSHA mentions that hospitals in particular “face unique challenges that contribute to the risk of injury or illness.” Patients with limited mobility must be moved or repositioned regardless of their weight. The Hippocratic oath most healthcare workers adhere to means many employees put the patient’s safety above their own.
The overall number of injuries in the industry as a whole has decreased since a high in 1992. Those workers employed in ambulatory care have a lower risk of physical injuries. Residential care facilities often have higher rates of injuries than even hospitals due to the needs of the patients. Abiding by safe practices can help keep workers safe but cannot eliminate all risk associated with working in the industry.