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Back, neck and other musculoskeletal injuries are often the results of heavy lifting. If you work as a nurse, medical assistant, porter or something similar, you face a high risk of a lifting-related injury. In severe cases, an injury caused by heavy lifting may be severe enough to keep you home from work, which may lead to hardships for you as well as your employer.

Per Healthcare Business & Technology, injuries caused by lifting have become so common in hospitals and health care environments that they have become the biggest threat you face in your line of work. How often are health care workers suffering serious lifting-related injuries, and is there anything that might help protect you from them?

A pervasive problem

Any health care worker who lifts and moves patients faces an elevated risk of a musculoskeletal injury. However, nurses, in particular, experience a high number of these serious injuries. Each year, 35,000 nurses miss work after suffering injuries related to lifting patients. Research shows that nurses face a higher risk of an on-the-job injury than construction workers, factory employees and others whose professions involve just physical labor.

How health care employers may protect you

Your employer may attempt to reduce the number of injuries staff members suffer due to lifting by asking you and your colleagues to lift patients as a team. Many health care workers say this request is unrealistic, though, because there are rarely enough workers around and available to participate when a patient needs moving. Even if you are able to find enough workers to help you, team lifting does not eliminate all risks associated with moving heavy patients.

When budget allows, some believe the best way to protect you and others who regularly lift and move patients is for the employer to buy lift-assistance equipment. This equipment, though expensive, takes much of the burden of lifting off of your body, reducing your chances of a serious injury.