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What CNAs should know about back injuries at work

While many people may not think of health care as a physically demanding field, as a nurse or nursing assistant, you know better, and the statistics validate your experience.

In a 2015 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes almost 60 percent of workplace injuries over a two-year period to the area of nursing. It also notes that health care workers experience a noticeably higher rate of musculoskeletal injuries compared to workers in other sectors.

Back and shoulder injuries are very common

Back and shoulder injuries number among the major risks CNAs encounter on the job. Lifting, moving or turning patients are all job duties that often lead to injuries.

Employers can reduce rate of injuries

Whether you work in a hospital, a long-term care facility or another type of setting, there are some steps you and your employer can take to make your job safer and reduce the risk of injury. For example, some facilities have implemented back injury prevention programs aimed at promoting safe practices.

Working together may lower risk

One major cause of back injury is attempting to lift a patient on your own. For this reason, some facilities have policies that require a minimum of two nursing assistants to perform lifting and transferring. For some patients, you may need more staff members.

Conversely, if a facility is busy and understaffed, CNAs may feel they have no choice but to attempt lifting by themselves if no one else is available to help.

Facilities should provide equipment and training 

Additionally, using proper equipment can make lifting and transferring safer for both the patient and the nursing assistants. Facilities that provide this equipment and train employees in how to use it can reduce the incidence of injuries among staff and mitigate your risk.

What happens if you suffer an injury

Back injuries can range greatly in their severity and effects. A CNA whose day consists largely of performing physical tasks may find his or her capacity to work substantially reduced.

Filing a workers' compensation claim for a back injury can help you get the treatment you need. Benefits may also cover some other types of losses such as lost wages.

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