Caring for elderly, infirm, and sometimes senile patients is not only hard work, but often dangerous. Nursing home employees have a high rate of on the job injuries, scoring among the top 10 in all industries when it comes to musculoskeletal claims for Workers’ Compensation.
Common Nursing Home Employee Injuries
Nursing home employees are required to do a lot of lifting in the course of their shift. The lifting may include moving patients in and out of beds and in and out of wheelchairs, as well as the lifting required for bathing patients and performing other caregiving tasks.
Over time, this constant lifting causes spinal and muscular injuries, which may result in serious back and mobility problems for the employee.
Not only does lifting cause a lot of wear and tear on a worker’s body, but such employees must often place their bodies in awkward positions during a typical work day. The high rate of injury is a major reason that nursing home staff turnover is so high.
Preventing Employee Injuries
There are ways to prevent many nursing home employee injuries, and more facilities are turning to them. Chief among them is the installation of ceiling lifts to aid in moving residents from their beds without causing the strain of manual lifting. Other options include electric beds, which allow easy raising and lowering of the bed when patients are cared for or turned.
Nursing homes installing such equipment have found a sharp reduction in annual Workers’ Compensation claims. In some states, the Workers’ Compensation bureau has offered safety grants to nursing homes to reduce worker injury. These operations have also seen a significant reduction in employee turnover, which in many cases has been cut by more than half after the installation of patient lifting devices.
Some nursing homes have mandated certain employee protection policies, such as the wearing of non-skid footwear. New technology can also help protect workers. Smart watches have a tracking system which alerts workers when they bend improperly during patient care, reducing the incidence of back strain.
When employees are injured and file a Workers’ Compensation claim, some employers are encouraging workers to return to work earlier than expected by offering “transitional” duties until they are well enough to return to their previous jobs. Such transitional duties may include taking vital signs, answering phone calls, giving bathing assistance, and other necessary work that does not involve lifting or moving patients.
Worker Injury and Staffing Levels
Because of high turnover and other factors, many nursing homes are understaffed. Not surprisingly, those facilities with too few people caring for too many residents experienced a high rate of worker injury.
For-profit nursing homes tend to have lower staffing ratios than non-profit facilities, and a higher rate of employee injury and turnover. Higher levels of staffing not only obviously benefit patients, but also benefit workers.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Injured Nursing Home Workers
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a workplace accident, you need the services of the experienced Wilmington workplace injury lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online to arrange for a free initial consultation. We serve clients in Wilmington, Middletown, Dover, Newark, and throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.