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Back injuries a professional hazard for nursing assistants

While health care workers spend their time taking care of those who are sick or injured, many end up as patients themselves as the result of injuries on the job.

According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants and orderlies  suffer more than 35,000 back and other musculoskeletal injuries each year that are serious enough for them to miss work. Nursing assistants and orderlies suffer a higher rate of back injuries than any other profession: more than warehouse workers, construction workers and truckers.

Many health care workers injure their backs lifting or moving heavy patients. Hospitals train workers to bend their knees and keep their backs straight while lifting. However, there is no safe way to lift a 250- to 300-pound patient without special equipment, which many hospitals lack.

Covered by workers’ compensation

As long as you are injured on the job, you are covered by worker’s compensation. Workers compensation is also available if you aggravate an existing back injury through your work-related activities.

To obtain workers’ compensation benefits for a back injury:

  • Report the injury to your employer within 30 days of the injury or aggravation of an existing injury.
  • Make an appointment with an approved workers’ compensation doctor. Your employer or workers’ compensation carrier can provide you a list.
  • Follow through on your doctor’s treatment plan.

Worker’s compensation provides free medical care, medication and lost-wage benefits. If your back injury is so severe you are unable to return to your current job, you may be entitled to job retraining benefits. If your claim is denied or you do not agree with your doctor’s treatment plan, seek help from an

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