Musculoskeletal injuries common among health care workers

Any task that involves heavy lifting may lead to significant injury. However, if you make your living as a health care worker, you face a higher risk of musculoskeletal injuries than most of the general workforce. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, musculoskeletal injuries are so common in the health care profession that, in 2017, employees missed 18,090 days of work. Furthermore, the injury risks are so significant within the profession that 20% of nurses who leave their direct patient care positions do so as a result of them. 

What types of musculoskeletal injury risks do you face working in health care, and how might they impact your on-the-job performance? 

Common injuries 

When you lift patients or perform other heavy lifting at work, you are most likely to injure your shoulders and lower back. Sprains and strains are the most common injuries caused by heavy lifting, and research shows that your chance of experiencing such an injury at work is rising. Patients have become more obese through the years, and as aging populations increase, so, too, does the need for health care workers to move them. The more heavy lifting you do, the higher your chances of an associated injury. 

Performance repercussions 

Some injuries relating to lifting may lead to chronic pain or functional or permanent disability. If you continue to work after hurting your back or shoulders, you may become more susceptible to other injuries, or your fears may hinder performance. Your musculoskeletal injury may also lead to fatigue or attention problems, which may also impact your ability to do your job. Find more about workplace injuries on our webpage.