As someone who makes your living working as a nurse, a certified nursing assistant, a home health aide or similar profession, you probably understand that the physical demands of your job can cause aches, pains and more serious health hazards. While the occupational hazards you face as a nurse are considerable and can include everything from needlestick injuries to exposure to dangerous toxins, diseases and substances, one of your biggest threats involves regularly moving heavy patients.
The very nature of your job means that you work with people who may be unable to get around on their own, whether due to illness, injury or what have you. That means the responsibility of moving those heavy patients to help them use the bathroom, prevent bedsores or prepare for surgical procedures, among other reasons, typically falls on you, and doing so can place a serious strain on your body.
Injury risks and statistics
According to Healthcare Business & Technology, today’s nurses are suffering about 35,000 back and musculoskeletal injuries while working every year that are significant enough to keep them out of work for some period. This figure is so high, in fact, that it trumps the number of similar injuries suffered by construction workers, factory employees and those in other inherently dangerous professions.
While many hospitals and similar entities that employ nurses train their workers and otherwise have protocols in place to help prevent injuries caused by heavy lifting, statistics show that they only do so much. Even nurses who consistently utilize proper lifting techniques, such as bending their knees while keeping their backs straight during lifting, are prone to injury because of the considerable strain lifting patients places on their bodies.
Whenever possible, it may benefit you to use mechanical lift-assistance equipment to move heavy patients. Because such equipment is not always available in all environments, however, today’s nurses will likely continue to develop serious back and other injuries as a result of moving patients.