The pain has been nagging for years, and the relief is within reach. Lifting and transferring patients are the most commonly reported causes of back pain and knee and shoulder injuries among health care workers.
Based on workers' compensation claims, nursing aides are at a higher risk for back injuries than construction laborers, loggers, material handlers and laborers.
"We strongly support any measure that enhances or ensures a safe and productive work environment for health care professionals and the patients they serve," said Anne Goldman of the United Federation of Teachers. She chairs NYSUT's Health Care Professionals Council, which represents both the professional and legislative interests of thousands of NYSUT members.
NYSUT and its health care activists are pushing this year to finally gain a statewide Safe Patient Handling Act that would greatly improve the conditions at a number of facilities.
The legislation (S1123-C in the Senate and A2180-C in the Assembly) would establish a workgroup at the Department of Health that would be directed to make recommendations regarding safe patient handling policy.
It would also establish specifications for safe patient handling programs based on each health care facility's specific patient needs.
"This bill is critical to ensuring that the best health care is delivered to patients," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue. "It is also critical in assuring our members' safety."