Nursing home aides have a rough job. They tend to patients who are critically ill and often infirm, unable to do anything for themselves.
Yet, it still comes as a surprise to many that “nursing home aide” is among the most dangerous jobs in Ohio. In fact, it’s among the most dangerous jobs in the nation, falling just below that of police officers when it comes to yearly injury rates. Heavily staffed by women, very few people would think that it’s a more dangerous job than that of a construction worker — but it is.
The injuries cataloged by federal and state agencies looking back to 1999 found a wide variety of injuries among nursing home workers, including:
- Back injuries
Nursing aides can also be injured on the job when patients suffering from dementia lash out in confusion, striking them.
Often the problems facing nursing aides are aggravated by the fact that they seldom have enough help to get adequate assistance while doing things like dressing a heavy patient or transferring one from a chair to a bed. According to studies done in 2017, around 80 percent of Ohio’s nursing homes were understaffed. Ohio, unlike some other states, does not have minimum requirements on staff-to-patient ratios — a fact that could endanger both patients and aides.
In addition, injured workers may not be getting the time off work that they need to heal. Anxious not to be replaced, almost 50 percent of aides report working double shifts once every week (or more). That gives them inadequate time off to heal from the intensive labor. When injured, more than 52 percent take no time off. Another 19 percent take less than a month, even when their injuries are serious.
For some injured aides, however, the job hazards can be permanently disabling. Almost one out of 10 is injured so badly that they never return to work.
Studies like this expose the dangers that workers face when they’re understaffed and pushed beyond their physical endurance — often by employers who put profits ahead of everything else. The only way to combat this sort of thing is by encouraging the injured to take full advantage of their legal rights — and to speak out against unsafe working conditions.
Source: cleveland.com, “Nursing home assistants among Ohio’s most dangerous occupations: A Critical Choice,” John Caniglia & Jo Ellen Corrigan, April 08, 2018