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How lifting assisted living residents can injure nursing assistants

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

Many people move into nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Ocean City County area because they have lost mobility. An illness or injury has limited or taken away their ability to get in and out of bed or a chair. They must rely on staff members, especially certified nursing assistants (CNAs), to lift and position them so that they can be as mobile and comfortable as possible.

Lifting and manipulating a human body can be difficult work. After lifting and carrying residents several times a shift, year after year, back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries can develop. These injuries can be very painful and take a long time to heal, forcing the sufferer to seek workers’ compensation if they were injured on the job. Severe lifting injuries may never completely go away.

The challenges of safe patient lifting

The most basic factors in determining if a lift is safe are the size of the patient and the size of the CNA doing the lifting. However, lifting a person who weighs 160 lbs is different from lifting a box of the same weight. A body’s shape is very different, and it is usually not possible for the lifter to get as close to the person they will be lifting as they would lifting an inanimate object. Resources like the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation can help somewhat, but that equation was not designed with handling human beings in mind.

Equipment and multi-person lifts help reduce the strain and risk of injury. But in some situations, neither are viable options. Staff shortages and equipment being used by someone else can force a CNA to undertake a risky patient lift. The result can be a debilitating work injury.