Nursing home workers must be gentle with residents, but the job itself can be physically demanding. Other industries have regulations that come into play when workers must routinely lift more than 50 pounds, but these do not apply to nursing home workers, who must frequently lift patients who weigh much more.
Nursing home workers must frequently help patients into or out of beds or catch them when they fall. Often, these patients are hooked up to intravenous tubes or other equipment. Sometimes they have wounds or conditions that make it very difficult to keep them comfortable while lifting them. Sometimes, patients resist being moved.
For workers, all this means lots of stooping over and lifting, often from awkward positions. As a result, nursing home workers frequently injure their backs or necks.
Nursing home workers have some of the highest rates of work-related back and neck injuries in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics rated nursing homes among the most dangerous places to work in 2014, largely because of the high rate of these injuries. By some accounts, nursing home workers have higher rates of occupational illness and injury than coal miners or warehouse workers.
Are these injuries avoidable?
There may be inherent dangers associated with nursing home work, but this does not mean that injuries are completely unavoidable.
Many such injuries can be avoided through changes in job practices. For instance, motorized equipment can help move disabled patients in and out of beds. In other cases, nursing homes can develop new best practices with the goal of reducing injuries to patients and workers.
Unfortunately, the nursing home industry faces many challenges in standardizing these safer practices. Many nursing home jobs come with relatively low pay, and facilities see a high rate of staff turnover. As a result, many facilities have a lack of personnel who have experience with seeing what techniques work and which lead to injury.
If you have been injured while working for a nursing home, New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system may be able to help. Workers’ compensation provides benefits for workers who were hurt in their course of their employment. These benefits can help with medical expenses and lost wages.
Unfortunately, there may be many bumps along the way between suffering an injury at work and workers receiving the benefits they need. Attorneys with experience in workers’ compensation law help the injured and their families to fight for their rights.