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Experts say high rate of injury in nursing is preventable

Illinois hospital workers may suffer on-the-job injuries at a higher rate than workers in many other professions. Like hospital workers nationwide, they are particularly vulnerable to injuries to the neck, back and shoulder. Despite the existence of technology that can reduce injuries for hospital workers, many medical facilities are slow to adopt that technology.

Regulations have also failed to protect hospital workers. Even though some organizations have shown reductions in injuries ranging from 40 to 80 percent when using devices that aid in lifting patients, in 2001, Congress blocked efforts to tighten regulations regarding ergonomic injuries in the workplace. Some lawmakers said hospitals already had too many regulations in place, and Congress argued that it would be too costly.

Some states passed laws to strengthen protection for hospital workers, but they often do not have means of enforcing them. Even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has said that they struggle to put new regulations in place. The organization is trying to persuade hospitals that making their workers safer is in their best interests, but it says it needs a federal law for full protection.

Meanwhile, for hospital workers, the personal costs are high. Many are injured at a young age and are thereafter unable to work. They may go on to struggle with daily tasks like child care.

These hospital workers may be eligible for workers' compensation as anyone who is injured on the job may be such as workers in construction and industrial accidents. This applies whether or not the injury is the individual's fault. Therefore, for example, if someone injures themselves while lifting a patient and they did not follow best practices in doing so, they may still be eligible.

Source: NPR, "Despite high rates of nursing injuries, government regulators take little action," Daniel Zwerdling, March 24, 2015

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