Working in a nursing home has its challenges. While there’s an emotional component to caring for the elderly and the disabled who struggle to care for themselves, the work can also take an enormous physical toll. After all, nursing home workers often have to lift patients to move or reposition them, oftentimes doing so for several patients multiple times a day. As if that’s not enough, nursing home workers might also be required to lift other heavy objects, like medical equipment.
In fact, hundreds of thousands of injuries are suffered each year in the nursing home setting, many of which are tied to the forward bending required to lift these heavy objects. These injuries can affect your neck and back, resulting in sprains, strains, and even ligament or muscle tear. Those who are injured on the job then end up facing financial hardship as they seek out medical care at a time when they’re unable to work and earn their wage.
Although the workers’ compensation system might be able to help offset these losses, we hope that you’re able to avoid these injuries altogether.
How to avoid lifting injuries in the nursing home setting
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to try to protect yourself in the workplace. This includes doing each of the following:
- Familiarize yourself with lifting equipment: Many nursing homes have equipment that assists in lifting patients. You might be able to significantly reduce your risk of injury by obtaining training on the use of these machines and ensuring that you know how to adequately use them when you’re on duty.
- Find help: If you’re untrained on lifting machines or uncomfortable with them, then you might want to find a coworker who knows how to use these machines. Another worker might be able to help you team lift other heavy objects, too. That way you don’t force yourself into a position where you have to lift more than is necessary.
- Ask about additional staffing: Your employer has an interest in keeping you on the job and safe from injuries. Therefore, they might be receptive to a request for additional staff, especially if you can illustrate how the lack of staffing during your shift increases the risk of injury, particularly when you’re left to lift patients and other heavy objects on your own.
- Follow good lifting practices: It’s inevitable that you’re going to have to lift heavy objects at some point. When you do, you should make sure that you’re following good lifting practices such as holding items close to your body when lifting, keeping your elbows tucked in, bending at the knees when lifting rather than at the waist, keeping your back straight when lifting, and avoiding twisting motions when lifting. Utilizing these practices should help alleviate the risk of serious back injury.
- Take care of yourself when you’re off the clock: Working in a nursing home can take a toll on your body. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you’re giving yourself enough rest when you’re off the clock and be sure to visit the doctor regularly to have any concerning tension or pain adequately addressed.
What should you do if you’re injured on the job?
We hope this doesn’t happen to you. But if it does, then you might want to be prepared to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. By doing so, you might be able to secure the financial resources that you need to keep yourself stable while you focus on your recovery and getting back to work. But the process can be complex, which is why it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can before moving forward with your claim.