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What workplace injuries are nurses at risk for?

Though the average person may not think of hospital work as a dangerous profession, the rates of injury for hospital workers is double that of the general private industry.

Registered Nurses (RNs) face hazards during their job every day. Here are some of the most common causes of injuries for RNs.

Common causes of injury

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs experienced about 19,800 injuries during 2016. Of these injuries, these were the top four causes:

  1. Overexertion: Physical overexertion accounted for 48% of nurse injuries during this period. These injuries often cause soft tissue and musculoskeletal issues and occur frequently in the lower back. For nurses, these injuries can happen while performing physically demanding motions such as lifting a patient.
  2. Slips, trips and falls: For anyone who works on their feet, falling is a big risk for injury. RN’s spend a considerable amount of time on their feet and may be moving quickly from one patient to another. Other factors that can contribute to a slip, trip or fall are wet floors and clutter. According to the BLS, about a quarter of nurse injuries were due to slips, trips and falls.
  3. Harmful objects and substances: Contact with biohazards and radiation is common for RN’s. Contact with hypodermic needles, diseases, drugs, other chemicals and radiation accounted for about 17% of nurse injuries.
  4. Violence: Aggravated patients also pose a serious risk to RNs. According to the BLS, physical and emotional violence caused 9% of injuries for RNs.

Prevention

Nurses can take special precautions while performing their duties to prevent these common injuries. However, healthcare organizations also play a big role in protecting their workers.

According to both the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the American Nurses Association (ANA), the best way to prevent injuries is to create an organizational culture that promotes nurse safety. Furthermore, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) names proper training as the key to preventing nurse injuries.

What to do after suffering an injury

RNs should report any workplace injuries to their employer. If your injury causes you medical expenses or lost wages, you may be able to file a workers' compensation claim to help recuperate any losses.

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