In reviewing incident rates of non-fatal injuries and illnesses, the sector that has the highest number of reportable injuries and illnesses is NURSING AND RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITIES (NAICS CODE 623). Maybe you would expect animal slaughter houses or aluminum foundries but surprisingly they are far down the list. (USBLS, USDOL, TABLE SNR01-2012).
Not surprisingly, manufacturers of travel trailers, campers, manufactured homes and truck trailers are high on the list. These facilities often employ young, nimble—but unexperienced—workers with no concept of working safely. Add moving conveyors, overhead cranes, many hand tools, congested assembly lines, parts everywhere, and demands to work fast—no wonder incidence rates are through the roof.
You wouldn’t expect nursing homes to be more dangerous than such assembly factories but on more careful observation, you can see why incident rates are so high. Moving irregular shaped and uncooperative items such as human beings presents a unique challenge every single time. Strained backs, limbs, pinched fingers, bumps and bruises is a predictable consequence of working in such a diverse set of circumstances. Further, employees are hired based on their medical or nursing training and experience not the strength of their backs and the power of their grips. It is true that medical equipment is designed and operated for the benefit of the patient not the medical staff.
Some of the other industries on the top of the incidence frequency list are more predictable—iron foundries, police and fire and even skiing facilities, and hog farming!!
I am always greatly dismayed when I see young, eager workers getting injured right and left who are not properly trained or motivated to do their jobs safely. Sadly, it’s not their fault. Employers, trade schools, healthcare trainers do an inadequate job in teaching, motivating, and monitoring their charges to consider the negative consequences of how they perform a task.
Safety and health practioners face an uphill battle in motivating their employers to demand their employees follow safe and healthful work practices. The true weak link is the management and supervisors, not the workers.