A new analysis of data culled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a bleak picture for the workers we entrust with the care of some of our most vulnerable citizens, and in turn raises questions about how their care might be impacted.
The federal agency’s newest release of non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private employers indicated approximately 2.9 million workers were injured annually in 2016, which represents a rate of 2.9 cases for every 100 full-time employers. State-operated nursing and residential care facilities had a rate of workplace injuries and illnesses that, on average, was about 13.7 cases per 100 full-time workers. That’s an increase from 12 per 100 just a year earlier. Privately-owned skilled nursing facilities, meanwhile, as well as those operated by local governments reported injury rates that were 6.5 and 6.1, respectively. In total, skilled nursing facilities in all three categories reported nearly 260,000 work-related injuries and illnesses that year, with nearly 112,000 of those workers requiring days away from work, job transfers or job restrictions on the kind of work they could do. This reflects research released in 2012 by RTI International that 60 percent of nursing assistants in nursing homes incur some type of occupational injuries, ranging from back injuries to black eyes to bites and physical violence.
That raises substantial questions about not only what needs to be done to ensure these workers are healthy, but about the quality of care patients are receiving. For instance, many nursing homes are already understaffed as it is, and the problem is worsening as the population ages. When a worker is forced to take leave or work on restricted duty because of an injury, it means there is even less staff to care for patients’ day-to-day needs. Continue reading →