Orderlies, attendants and nursing aids suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than any other profession, and registered nurses suffer more such injuries than the average worker, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ABC News reports.
"When we're losing skilled folks to back injuries and other musculoskeletal injuries, that's a problem," Suzy Harrington, safety and wellness director of the American Nurses Association (ANA) told ABC News. "We need a whole paradigm shift toward a true culture of safety."
The healthcare industry reported more than 600,000 workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010, making it the most dangerous occupation in the nation. The second most dangerous, manufacturing, reported 150,000 fewer injuries. Despite this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducts 20 times more inspections at construction sites than at healthcare facilities, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
Although hospitals and some states have their own individual safety standards, the ANA has lobbied for years to mandate nationwide safety standards, but their most recent effort at passing a federal law was unsuccessful, according to ABC News. In June, the ANA drafted their own national standards and made them available for purchase. Three thousand hospitals have already bought them, according to Harrington.
In 2011, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a safe-patient-handling bill after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed five such bills, but some nurses testified before California's OSHA that many problems persisted since the law was enacted.
"We do not have any nurses' aides, nor do we have a lift team, so it's just us to lift the patients," testified Debra Amour, an RN in the ICU at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., according to a blog post by National Nurses United. "When you have a 400-pound patient who has a leg wound for example, it can take the entire staff to hold the leg while the dressing is changed, which can easily take twenty minutes."