Ergonomics Research/studies Workers' compensation Musculoskeletal disorders Health care/social assistance Health Care Workers

MSDs common among long-term care aides, study shows

Photo: shapecharge/iStockphoto

Edmonton, Alberta — A recent study of workers’ compensation claims filed by workers in long-term care facilities shows that the majority involved care aides and musculoskeletal injuries.

Researchers at the University of Alberta reviewed 2014-2018 data from the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta, which included more than 3,300 workers’ comp claims from 25 long-term care facilities. They looked at workers’ roles, injury types and missed workdays.

Care aides, who provide most of the hands-on patient care in long-term facilities, made up 62.1% of the claimants and accounted for the highest percentage of claims stemming from severe injury (67.7%) – or those requiring 31 or more days of disability. Overall, 5.1% of the claims were categorized as severe injuries.

Regulated health professionals (13.5%) and housekeeping/maintenance (8.8%) made up the next largest groups of claimants to sustain severe injuries on the job.

In addition, most of the claims involved traumatic injuries to the muscles, tendons, ligaments or joints. “Bodily reaction and exertion” was described in nearly half of the claims.

Other key findings:

  • 90.7% of the claimants were women, with 73% of them over the age of 40.
  • Among claims with no days of disability, wounds and burns (27.3%) were the most common injury type.
  • The largest proportion of claims with fewer than 31 days of disability were back injuries (20.4%).

“Care aides, those at the greatest risk of injury, often face precarious employment, with nearly a quarter of care aides working at more than one home,” the researchers write. “Ensuring that such staff recognize the importance of injury reporting, and that any real or perceived repercussions of reporting are minimized, should be central to worker safety protocols.”

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)