Because many patients receiving home health care require substantial physical assistance, overexertion injuries for home health care workers are common. However, many of these injuries are preventable.
What are the most common causes of overexertion injuries and what can workers and employers do to prevent them?
Common causes of overexertion injuries
The repetitive and physically demanding nature of home health care work makes injuries more of a concern than for many other professions. Overexertion is the leading cause of injury for home health care workers in the United States. There are four common reasons these injuries happen:
- Improper or repetitive lifting and repositioning
- Incompatible assignments
- Inadequate staffing
- Underreporting of injuries
Many home health care businesses struggle to find enough workers, which leads to heavy workloads and long shifts for workers. Additionally, understaffing contributes to assigning workers to clients they are physically unable to assist without risking injury. Many workers are unaware of their employer’s injury reporting policies or their right to workers’ compensation benefits and many injuries go unreported.
How to prevent overexertion injuries
Home health employers can reduce overexertion injuries by properly training staff on lifting and repositioning techniques and providing appropriate equipment and monitoring. Additionally, they must find ways to address understaffing and avoid assigning workers to clients they lack the training or physical ability to assist. Finally, employers should educate employees about reporting policies and explain workers’ compensation rights.
With workplace injuries for home health care workers exceeding the national average, it is clear that employers need to do more to protect workers from overexertion injuries. Fortunately, most injuries are preventable with proper training and staffing.