Nurses devote their day-to-day lives caring for the health and well-being of their patients. Unfortunately, many nurses are seriously injured in the process. Lifting patients and transporting them from one location to another can cause severe back and spine injuries.
The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports show that nurses face three times more back injuries than workers within the construction industry. What should all nurses know about back injuries and how to protect their well-being?
Why are the number of back injuries so high?
Over the past 50 years, the rate of obesity has greatly increased in the United States. Nurses are now asked to lift many patients who are 300 or 400 pounds. Even with multiple employees assisting, this can greatly stress a nurse's back and entire musculoskeletal system.
Nurses are asked to lift heavy burdens multiple times throughout each shift without proper assistance. Many times, they lack lift teams or the mechanical lift systems that they require. Hospitals have been prioritizing funds elsewhere, and many lack the proper number of staff or safety equipment necessary to protect their employees.
How can nurses protect their health?
It can be very difficult for nurses to protect their health in a work environment that fails to support their physical needs. Nurses can try to protect their health by:
- Asking hospitals about their safety systems and lift processes before accepting a position.
- Requesting additional safety training and equipment within the hospital.
- Asking for assistance and support before lifting heavy loads.
- Reporting all injuries immediately with a supervisor.
- Seeking medical attention for all work-related injuries.
- Filing for workers' compensation benefits after a work-related injury.
What can workers' compensation offer?
If a nurse is injured on the job, he or she can report the injury and apply for workers' compensation benefits for financial support. Workers' compensation can cover medical bills, recovery costs, lost wages from missed work and either temporary or permanent disability benefits depending upon the severity of the injury and length of the recovery period.