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How can nursing home workers prevent back injuries?

If you work in the nursing home industry, you probably already know that back injuries are high on the list of "occupational risks" for your profession.

You may not realize exactly how high, though. Most people don't think that working in a nursing home is more dangerous than working at a construction site -- but it is. In fact, it's about twice as dangerous, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor. Back injuries from trying to lift immobile patients are among the most common complaints.

However, experts say that workers can do a lot to reduce their own risks simply by learning how to lift correctly.

How do you do it? Try these tips:

1. Go in with a plan: If you think that someone is too heavy for you to lift alone, you're probably right. Wait until you have help or insist on a lift aid (when one is available).

2. Don't rush: Rushing through the process can endanger you and your patient. Slow, steady movements are the keys to success.

3. Get in as close to your patient as possible: The further out you hold a patient, the more unnecessary strain you're putting on your arms, shoulders and back.

4. Keep your posture perfect when you lift: That means no hunching forward or bending your head. Your back should remain straight and your head should remain lifted. Put the strain on your legs and arms.

5. Don't twist when turning: Many health care workers make the mistake of twisting as they turn their patients. That's a big problem because it increases the likelihood of a serious back injury. A twisted spine is much weaker than a straight one. Instead of twisting, pivot. Keep your back straight and turn with your feet.

Observing the proper procedures can drastically improve your chances of avoiding a debilitating injury and ending up unable to work for a long period of time.

Source: McKnight's, "https://www.mcknights.com/guest-columns/most-back-injuries-are-preventable-heres-how/article/203664/," accessed May 02, 2018

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