NIOSH Looks at Homecare Worker Injuries

By Guy Burdick

Over a five-year period (2015 to 2020), 117,000 homecare workers were treated in emergency departments for work-related injuries, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced February 6 in the latest edition of its eNews publication. The recently completed research found that nearly all injured workers (93%) were female.

Home health and personal care workers monitor the condition of people, often elderly, with chronic illnesses or disabilities and assist them with daily living activities. They often work alone with their clients in private homes, leading to unique safety challenges.

More than half of the injuries (52%) were from overexertion and repetitive motions. Falls, slips, and trips accounted for 15% of injuries, and violent acts by people or animals also accounted for 15% of injuries.

Homecare work is a growing occupation. Approximately 3.6 million home health and personal care aides were employed in the United States in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That number is projected to increase by 25% to 4.6 million workers by 2031.

As the number of homecare workers continues to grow, putting more workers at risk for injury, more research is needed to understand and prevent the factors contributing to work-related injury risk among homecare workers, according to NIOSH.

Researchers used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—Occupational Supplement (NEISS-Work). NEISS-Work, supported by a partnership between NIOSH and the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), collects information on work-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments.

The study appears in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.