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REPORT: Direct-Care Jobs Linked to More Injuries and Illnesses

May 9, 2016

Women in direct care are injured more than women in any other job, an annual AFL-CIO report on workplace safety shows.

In 2014, women workers in the job categories “nursing, psychiatric and home health aides” sustained 41,990 on-the-job injuries or illnesses that caused them to miss work, the report shows.

The next-most dangerous job category for women, “building cleaning workers,” sustained 24,510 such injuries or illnesses.

PHI research (pdf) shows that women comprise nearly 90 percent of the direct-care workforce.

Workplace Violence

Additionally, direct-care workers were more likely than nearly every other type of worker to experience significant violence on the job.

More than 6,500 serious “workplace violence events” leading to days away from work befell nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides in 2014, more than any other job type. Personal care aides placed third on that list, with 2,310 incidences of workplace violence.

Workplace violence represents a “growing and serious threat — particularly to women workers and workers in the health care industry — that necessitates enhanced enforcement and development of an OSHA workplace violence standard,” the AFL-CIO report says.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Cases of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are also unusually high in number among direct-care workers, with nursing assistants developing 20,920 MSDs in 2014. Only workers in the job category “laborers and freight, stock and material movers, handlers” suffered more MSDs, with 21,480. Personal care aides had the 15th-highest total of MSDs in 2014, with 5,300.

The recent PHI report Raise the Floor linked nursing assistants’ injuries to the high turnover rates in U.S. nursing homes.

The AFL-CIO’s data is limited to workers in the private sector. Its full report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, is available at the AFL-CIO website.

— by Matthew Ozga

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