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Lifting injuries for nurses could be prevented

Nurses in Minnesota might be more prone to injury than workers in many other industries. Although some people might think of an industry like construction as one where injuries are common, nurses have to lift and move patients regularly. This can lead to neck, shoulder and arm injuries.

Some hospitals have installed devices that do the lifting for nurses, and this has led to a reduction in injuries of 40 to 80 percent. However, repeated efforts both nationwide and within states to impose stricter regulations in the workplace to protect workers who are prone to injuries due to repetitive actions as well as health care workers have been largely unsuccessful.

In 2000, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration instituted a rule that would protect workers across a number of industries. The regulation would have required companies and organizations with workers who suffered repeated ergonomic injuries to change their workplaces in order to prevent those injuries, but the ruling was struck down by Congress a few weeks after it was put into place. Since then, the agency has been unsuccessful in replacing it with a similar regulation although it has urged hospitals to do more to protect workers.

Nurses and other workers who are injured in the workplace may be eligible for workers compensation. This is the case whether the injury is ergonomic or not and regardless of whether it is the fault of the employee, another individual or simply an unfortunate accident. However, the process of applying for workers' compensation can be complex, and individuals may want the assistance of an attorney. An attorney also may be able to help with appeals in case workers' compensation is denied.

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

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