According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, long-term care workers have the highest injury rates within the healthcare industry. In fact, statistics show that in 2009, long-term care facilities had 8.4 injuries per every 100 full-time workers. Moreover, the incidence rate for long-term care facilities is also higher than that reported in other health fields. A majority of these injuries are undoubtedly incurred by workers straining to manually lift and move patients. This number will only increase as the long-term healthcare industry continues to grow – leading to a parallel increase in costs expended on worker’s compensation.
One method that many have used to curb these costs is to install mechanical lifts in the facilities, designed to assist employees with heavy lifting. Atlanta worker’s compensation lawyers admonish that just purchasing and having lifts available is not enough to ensure that they are used and used correctly. The University of Maryland and the National Council on Compensation Insurance recently released a study that tested the impact of safe lifting programs on worker’s compensation costs.
By surveying over 250 directors at various healthcare facilities across the country, researchers discovered that long-term care centers that implemented rigid policies regarding employees’ use of mechanical lifts for patients performed better than those who did not.
Approximately 95% of facilities had powered mechanical lifts installed and about 80% used them regularly. An emphasis on safe lift programs seemed to lower worker’s comp costs by decreasing the incidence of workplace injuries. Findings also showed that for-profit facilities have lower claim frequency and lower total claim costs than not-for-profits. Either way, making safe-lift programs a priority at long-term care facilities could be the key to reducing injuries and worker compensation costs.