Guide Addresses Top Hazards for Home Health Aides
The new resource from NIOSH is sure to be needed: BLS has projected this occupation will grow faster than any other through 2016.
Lifting and moving patients is of greatest concern in terms of injuries, but a new guide from NIOSH about hazards to which home health workers are exposed does not stop there. Besides discussing musculoskeletal disorders and how they can be prevented, the guide also covers latex allergy, needlesticks and bloodborne pathogens, occupational stress, and violence.
A final section covers other hazards -- animals, infectious diseases, transportation to and from patients' homes, etc. -- and checklists for employers and workers are included in the final four pages of the document.
"Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are a serious problem in the home healthcare industry," the guide notes (citations omitted). "Sprains and strains were the most common lost-worktime injuries to home healthcare workers in 2007. Home healthcare workers may injure themselves when transferring patients into and out of bed or when assisting patients walking or standing. The rate of injury from lifting in 2007 for home healthcare workers was 20.5 per 10,000 workers. Compared with other workers, home healthcare workers take more frequent sick leave as a result of work-related musculoskeletal symptoms."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2008 lost-time injury and illness rate for nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants overall was 449 per 10,000 full-time workers, with overexertion and same-level falls being the top causes. Their rate exceeded the 2008 rates for drivers of heavy trucks (362 per 10,000) and construction laborers (383.1 per 10,000).