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New bill could protect Louisiana nurses

While most people wouldn't think of nursing as a dangerous job, it has an injury rate similar to that of police officers and firefighters. Many nursing injuries involve the musculoskeletal system and occur when nurses attempt to move or lift patients. However, many health care employers do not have systems in place to help those who suffer what could be debilitating and career-ending injuries.

That would change if a bill introduced by Congress is passed into law. It would direct the Department of Labor to adopt safe patient handling requirements, which would use technology to make it easier for a nurse to do his or her job. It may also allow nurses to object to working in conditions that they deem to be unsafe or otherwise hazardous to their health. A study conducted by Public Citizen found that as few as 3 percent of health care providers or hospitals have any sort of safety program in place.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, individuals can safely lift up to 51 pounds. However, when working with patients, an individual should lift no more than 35 pounds. The new regulations would protect workers from taking actions that would essentially defy industry experts as a matter of performing their job duties.

Those who suffer from a workplace injury may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits. Such benefits may make it easier to pay medical bills and other daily expenses while a worker is unable to do his or her job. If an individual has dependents, his or her monthly benefit may be higher to help provide for them. An attorney might be able to review an individual's case to determine what type of benefits he or she could be entitled to.

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