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Workers' compensation claims high among long-term care workers

When Pennsylvania residents think of jobs that offer a high risk of injury, nursing home workers probably do not come to mind. Yet a recent report indicates that reported injuries among nursing home workers are higher than reported injuries for some occupations that are considered more dangerous. Fortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is already taking steps to try to reduce work-related injuries in nursing homes a move that may result in fewer workers' compensation claims.

According to government statistics, 7.3 percent of private-sector residential and nursing home workers reported occupational injuries or illness in 2012. For state-run long-term care facilities, the injury rate was 13 percent. Both of these are much higher than the reported injury rate 3.6 percent for construction workers last year. For workers in mining jobs outside of the oil and gas industries, the reported injury rate was 2.7 percent.

Many of the injuries occur as workers are lifting patients. The OSHA is attempting to address this problem by educating workers here in Pennsylvania about proper methods for transferring patients. This includes using tools and equipment to lift patients whenever possible instead of doing it manually.

While some in the industry would like to see the elimination of manual lifting entirely, it is an unlikely goal. Certain circumstances may still require manual lifting. So while the campaign to reduce injuries may be somewhat successful, there will likely always be the chance for long-term care workers to sustain injuries. When that happens, they may benefit from speaking to someone who can walk them through the workers' compensation process and ensure that they get all the benefits that they deserve.

Source: mcknights.com, If you want to live dangerously, work in a nursing home, John O'Connor, Nov. 25, 2013

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