Nursing: The most dangerous job in MN in terms of injury risk

Nursing employees face a high risk of musculoskeletal disorders, which makes nursing one of the worst occupations for work-related injuries.

Nursing employees in Saint Paul play an essential role in keeping others healthy. Sadly, though, the nature of their work puts healthcare employees themselves at a high risk for injury. In Minnesota, more 2012 workers' compensation claims involved healthcare and social assistance workers than any other employees, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. This pattern mirrors national data indicating that nursing employees face the highest injury risk of all workers.

Steep injury rates

Nursing employees encounter various unique occupational dangers, from disease exposure to patient attacks. However, data indicates that these employees are also highly likely to fall victim to sprains, stress injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders. National Public Radio provides the following figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to underscore the risk that nursing employees face:

  • Nursing employees suffer over 35,000 injuries each year.
  • This figure only reflects injuries that result in time missed from work.
  • Compared to construction workers, nursing orderlies and assistants suffer three times more musculoskeletal injuries.

Back injuries are especially common among nursing employees. The New York Times reports that, in a given year, half of these workers suffer from low back pain. Moving and lifting patients is one common cause of these injuries. The long shifts that nursing employees typically work may only exacerbate this problem.

Ongoing risk factors

Sadly, many people may suffer from these painful and potentially debilitating workplace injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that healthcare is growing faster than any other U.S. industry. Unfortunately, many of the factors that contribute to nursing injuries have not been fully addressed. The CDC notes that, while injuries have declined in other hazardous industries, healthcare injury rates remain high.

According to materials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, rising obesity is one factor that can contribute to nursing injuries. Lifting and moving patients can be strenuous for healthcare workers even when the patients are not overweight. As more of the healthcare workforce ages, the risk of injuries may only become more pronounced.

Pursuing compensation

In Minnesota, nursing employees who are hurt on the job may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. These benefits may help offset the cost of medical care and wage loss. Workers' compensation benefits may also help address long-term disablement resulting from an injury.

To receive workers' compensation, an injured worker must show that an injury arose in the course of his or her work. State law allows compensation for conditions that were worsened or accelerated by an employee's work. In these cases, an injured employee would need to prove that his or her work contributed significantly to the injury.

While this may seem straightforward, documenting a workers' compensation claim can be challenging. This can especially be true of claims involving gradual-onset conditions, such as repetitive stress injuries. Healthcare workers who have suffered such injuries may benefit from seeking advice from an attorney during the claim process.

Keywords: work-related, injury, workers' compensation