Workers who handle direct resident care in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities face risks on each shift. It is up the facility owners and supervisors to implement safety standards to help keep them safe. There are several occupational hazards that must be appropriately addressed.
Lifting residents is one of these primary hazards. It can cause back pain, but it may also lead to knee, shoulder and other joint pain. Fatigued muscles are also possible. Facilities can institute training programs that show workers how to properly lift and transfer residents. Providing assistive life devices might also be beneficial in preventing worker injuries.
Another primary risk is not having adequate staffing in place. When there aren’t enough workers, the ones who do show up for work have to do more duties than what they should in a shift. This can lead to mental and physical fatigue, which can contribute to injuries. Lack of staff can also lead to resident harm because they might not be able to get the care and assistance they need.
Asking employees to do things they are physically unable to do or haven’t been properly trained to do can also lead to injuries. This is one area in which having a solid training program, as well as continuing education, can benefit workers, facilities and residents at the same time.
Workers don’t always report when they suffer an injury. Some will try to hide it in an effort to continue working with the residents they know need help. This makes it difficult to properly quantify the number of individuals who are injured while working in these positions.
Anyone who works in a long-term or skilled nursing facility who suffers an injury at work should ensure they get the medical care they need and report the injury. Workers’ compensation coverage is beneficial in these cases, but you may have to fight for those benefits.