Michael Bolla and Sally Singer lift Leon Anders using a ceiling lift and sling at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, Calif. The VA system is among a very small number of hospitals that have installed equipment and provided proper training so their nursing staff can avoid physically lifting and moving patients themselves. Annie Tritt for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Annie Tritt for NPR

Joel Ramirez climbs back into his wheelchair with the help of Francisco Guardado, a home health aide, at his home in Rialto, Calif. Patrick T. Fallon for ProPublica hide caption

itoggle caption Patrick T. Fallon for ProPublica

Jeremy Lewis lost his left arm during a work-related incident while working at a poultry plant in Alabama. The state has the nation's lowest workers' compensation benefits for amputations and sent Lewis into just the kind of downward spiral workers' comp was intended to prevent. Dustin Chambers for ProPublica hide caption

itoggle caption Dustin Chambers for ProPublica

Joel Ramirez climbs back into his wheelchair with the help of Francisco Guardado, a home health aide, at his home in Rialto, Calif. Ramirez was paralyzed from the waist down in 2009 when a 900-pound crate fell on him at a warehouse. Changes to California workers' compensation laws have impacted his quality of care. Patrick T. Fallon for ProPublica hide caption

itoggle caption Patrick T. Fallon for ProPublica

Lupita Ramirez dresses her husband, Joel, at their home in Rialto, Calif. Joel was paralyzed from the waist down after being crushed by a pallet when he was working in a warehouse. Patrick T. Fallon for ProPublica hide caption

itoggle caption Patrick T. Fallon for ProPublica

To safely lift Bernard Valencia out of his hospital bed, Cheri Moore uses a ceiling lift and sling. The VA hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., has safe patient handling technology installed throughout its entire facility. Annie Tritt for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Annie Tritt for NPR

Terry Cawthorn was a nurse at Mission Hospital for more than 20 years. But after a series of back injuries, mainly from lifting patients, she was fired. Cawthorn took legal action against the hospital and still faces daily struggles as a result of her injury. Susannah Kay for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Susannah Kay for NPR

The screenshot from a simulation video shows the magnitude and distribution of forces NPR correspondent Daniel Zwerdling endured on his spine while re-creating the way nurses lift patients from their beds. Courtesy of the Spine Research Institute at The Ohio State University hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Spine Research Institute at The Ohio State University

Edward Brown, who was jailed for not paying fines he couldn't afford, is among 16 plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings, Mo. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Joseph Shapiro/NPR

Tonya DeBerry (center) and her children, Herbert Nelson and Allison Nelson, have all been held in Ferguson and Jennings jails for unpaid traffic tickets. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Joseph Shapiro/NPR

The X-ray of Tove Schuster's spine shows the metal cage and four screws her surgeon used to repair a damaged disk in her back. Daniel Zwerdling/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Daniel Zwerdling/NPR