CNA Injuries Correlate To Level Of Support, Respect At Work
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) suffer injuries at a rate as high as three times the average for U.S. workers. Research shows that injury rates correlate to how well the CNA feels appreciated and supported in his or her work environment.
The injury rate in the nursing workforce is a well-known problem. Registered nurses (RNs), CNAs and orderlies/aides suffer a combined 9,000 injuries each day. However, the threat to CNAs is disproportionately high, particularly among nursing home workers and those providing in-home care.
Researchers have tried to uncover why nursing assistants suffer such a tremendous injury rate and the findings are quite interesting. Data suggests there is a correlation between on-the-job injuries and how valued a CNA feels by his or her employer.
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Injury Rates Are Too High
The Research Triangle Institute recently studied injuries among nursing assistants and its findings were troubling.
Among CNAs who work in nursing homes:
- 60 percent reported suffering an on-the-job injury in the past year
- 24 percent had to miss work due to the injury
- 16 percent were transferred to light duty work as a result of injury
The injury rate is not quite as high for nursing assistants who work in hospitals, but is still unacceptable at twice the average of U.S. workers! Now that we have an understanding of the danger that CNAs face daily, let’s take a look at the root of the problem.
What Is Causing The Harm?
The cause of certified nursing assistant injuries varies among work environments. For CNAs in nursing homes, patient assaults are common. Nursing homes have many patients suffering from dementia and other disorders, so CNAs are often the target of aggression. Common patient-inflicted injuries include scratches, cuts, open wounds and back injuries.Nursing assistants and aides in home settings are also frequently victimized by patient assaults. The threat of needlestick injuries is especially prevalent for those who provide in-home care.
In nearly every health care setting, the nursing workforce is vulnerable to serious back, neck and shoulder injuries while lifting and moving patients.
How Workplace Respect Can Save CNAs From Harm
As mentioned earlier, CNAs who feel they aren’t valued and respected at work suffer injuries at a higher rate. Respect and appreciation can only be measured subjectively, but shortcomings on objective criteria are likely what lead to feeling underappreciated.
Some of the work conditions contributing to a CNA feeling underappreciated include:
- Lack of supporting staff (understaffing)
- Low pay and benefits
- Long hours and night shifts
- Forced overtime (22 percent of CNAs have mandatory OT)
- High turnover
- Lack of comprehensive training
Nursing homes, hospitals, clinics and agencies can address some of the above factors with relative ease. Other measures – such as installing patient lifts/hoists and ensuring that nurses are trained to efficiently use them – require more resources, but are important nonetheless.
CNAs are often the frontline in health care, heavily influencing patient care and satisfaction. Until decision-makers universally realize the precious value that nursing assistants bring, CNAs will continue to be unnecessarily exposed to serious injuries at work.
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