Healthcare Workers and Musculoskeletal Injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries among healthcare workers are due in large part to overexertion related to repeated manual patient handling activities, often involving heavy manual lifting associated with transferring and repositioning patients and working in extremely awkward postures. The challenges of lifting patients is compounded by the increasing weight of patients to be lifted due to the obesity epidemic in the United States and the rapidly increasing number of older people who require assistance with activities of daily living.
The consequences of work-related musculoskeletal injuries among nursing assistants and nurses are substantial. Along with higher employer costs due to medical expenses, disability compensation, and litigation, nurse injuries also are costly in terms of chronic pain and functional disability, absenteeism, and turnover. As many as 20% of nurses who leave direct patient care positions do so because of risks associated with work. Direct and indirect costs associated with only back injuries in the healthcare industry are estimated to be $20 billion annually. In addition, healthcare employees, who experience pain and fatigue may be less productive, less attentive, susceptible to further injury, and may be more likely to affect the health and safety of others.
Given the increasingly hazardous biomechanical demands on caregivers today, it is clear the healthcare industry must rely on technology to make patient handling and movement safe. Patient transfer and lifting devices are key components of an effective safety program to control the risk of injury to patients and staff associated with lifting, transferring, repositioning or the movement of patients. The use of patient handling devices are beneficial for the healthcare staff as well as the patients. (www.osha.gov)