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Why are nursing facility workers prone to injury?

Nursing home workers, skilled nursing facility employees and other nursing facility workers get injured on the job at high rates. In fact, as far as state-run workplaces go, nursing facilities rank at the top for being the most injury-prone. About 8.8 per 100 nursing facility employees get injured or ill, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In one way, this makes sense. After all, a lot of resident lifting is involved, and many nursing homes lack a reputation for training their personnel well or for having robust staffing levels.

The reality: Yes, lifting, undertraining and understaffing are a big part of the issue. There is another significant piece to the puzzle, though, and it can prove surprising.

Injuries from residents

The people who live in a nursing facility tend to be a diverse mix of people. Some may be mentally stable, even-tempered, frail and need relatively minimal help with bathing and grooming. Others may be big and burly, confused and frustrated at why they find themselves in a nursing home. They do not react well much of the time when nurses' aides try to help them with daily living tasks such as dressing, eating and getting around.

The result? Some nursing facility staff get punched in the eye, shoved around, pinched, bitten, bruised and so on.

Understaffing and high turnover

Helping people serves as a calling to many, but if you are underpaid, treated badly and injured on the job, you may want to leave your field. Nursing facilities have high turnover rates, and when someone leaves, that experience and training go with him or her. Couple that with the fact that understaffing is common, and you have a recipe for disaster. You get residents who lack a rapport with new staffers and who may lash out at them. You also get personnel who are not sure how to lift properly or are ordered to lift in inappropriate situations, such as a 135-pound nurse being the only person available to lift a 350-pound resident.

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