Back and neck injuries and pain are among the most common impairments faced by Americans nowadays. In the workplace, back injury and pain is a particular risk in many professions, some more so than others. Healthcare is one of these industries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, musculoskeletal injuries are the greatest cause of workplace injury for those working in the field of healthcare.

Healthcare is, of course, not the only industry where workers are at risk of back injury, but health care workers—particularly those in nursing and residential care—are at risk for muscle strains, low back problems, tendonitis, and rotator cuff injuries. Many such injuries are the result of lifting and moving patients frequently. Those who work in the field know that even proper use of manual lifting and ambulation techniques can cause strain.

OSHA, in a recently released guide for health care employers and employees, points out the importance of mechanical lifting for health care workers. Utilizing mechanical lifts can help reduce strain on workers a great deal, and the document says that it is actually safer for patients as well since it ensures their stability while the movement is taking place.

Health care workers who suffer back injury or other work-related illness or injury need to understand that they have the right to receive compensation for their injuries. Workers sometimes face resistance from an employer when filing for workers’ compensation benefits, though, and can benefit from working with a strong advocate in such cases. 

Source: Safety.blr.com, “Back injuries in healthcare: A $20 billion problem,” June 25, 2014.