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Nursing assistants face many workplace risks

You know you will never have trouble finding a job in your field because there is a critical shortage of nursing assistants. However, as you watch your co-workers struggling with pain and injuries, you may wonder how long it will be before you end up in the emergency room. The shortage of nursing assistants and the increasing number of people seeking medical help are a recipe for disaster.

Few people would consider working in the health care field as a dangerous job, but in Ohio, nursing assistant ranks as one industry with the highest rate of reported injuries, just under law enforcement and slightly above construction workers. Those in your profession suffer three times more injuries than most other workers.

The high demands of your job lead to injury

If you are employed in one of Ohio’s 960 nursing homes, you will probably not dispute these two facts: you are overworked, and you are underpaid. Keeping up with the constant needs of your patients or residents requires you to keep a high level of energy and a non-stop pace most days. Nevertheless, working as a nursing assistant requires compassion and dedication, and you likely give your all when you are on the clock, no matter how battered you may feel at the end of the day.

About 10 percent of nursing assistants find that injury forces them to leave the work they love. You may know co-workers in this situation. They are simply unable to do the job because of injuries resulting from any of the following activities:

  • Slipping, tripping or falling
  • Standing or walking for hours a day
  • Lifting patients
  • Moving patients from one level to another

The increasing number of immobile, overweight patients may contribute to musculoskeletal injuries, leaving you with pain in your back, legs, shoulders and arms. With fewer nursing assistants on staff, you may find that some of the more strenuous tasks – those that require two or more people – you are left to do by yourself.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation reports that nearly 10,000 claims came from nursing home employees over the past five years. About a third of them related their injuries to overexertion. You may find your situation frustrating, and like many colleagues, you wonder if you will burn out before your body gives out.

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