Nursing assistants, not doctors, provide nearly 90 percent of the care received by residents of hospitals and long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
In the wake of Nursing Assistants Appreciation Week in June, it is time to direct public attention to a major issue threatening the health and livelihood of nursing assistants who care for our loved ones when we no longer can. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and workers’ compensation attorneys like Hupy and Abraham are noting an alarming trend in the number of nursing assistants injured while on the job.
Nursing Assistant Injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the nursing assistant field is expected to grow faster than all other occupations from 2012 to 2022 – an approximate growth of 21 percent. The BLS also reports that more than 35,000 back and other musculoskeletal injuries occur to nursing employees each year, and are severe enough that employees must miss work. In terms of number of injuries, this data shows that nursing assistants are injured more than any other occupation, including construction and warehouse workers, truckers and registered nurses.
A primary cause of these injuries is when nursing assistants simply perform their everyday jobs of moving and lifting patients (many of whom are significantly overweight), in the way they are trained to do so. Many facilities are teaching staff the traditional way to move patients – bent knees straight back – which is being called dangerous by university and government researchers. Without a change in practices, this quickly growing field may experience a significant downshift in quality of care if its employees continue to be injured on the job at such a staggering rate.
Among all the reported injuries to nursing assistant staff, and the increasing number of overweight patients, many hospitals have made moves to supply facilities with lifting machines and equipment to help move patients and avoid staff injuries. But in too many cases, nursing assistants report there aren’t enough machines that are functional or available for the number of patients in need. These difficulties are a contributing factor in the poor care often seen in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. We consistently see staffing levels that are too low, as well as under-trained staff.
What Can Be Done?
OSHA's power has been so limited by Congress and court decisions that it is struggling to force care facilities and hospitals to protect nursing employees. But, a widespread national law requiring protection of staff would result in a reduction of the many career-ending injuries to nursing assistants. There are feasible solutions to prevent these hazards, and now is the time for Congress and employers to implement them.If you or a loved one in Iowa work, or have worked, as a nursing assistant and have been injured while working due to insufficient protections provided by your workplace, speak with an Iowa workers’ compensation attorney at Hupy and Abraham today. Call 800-800-5678 for a free consultation, or start a live chat with us now, at Hupy.com.