Nurse safety: common hazards to be aware of

While the nursing profession comes with great rewards, such as saving a patient's life, it also comes with serious hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun to take strides in addressing the dangers that threaten hospital staff. For example, OSHA has been expanding enforcement practices to address threats from patient lifting, exposure to bloodborne pathogens, violence in the workplace, and even slip-and-fall accidents.

Studies have shown that workplace injuries for nurses in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes are higher than many industries that most people consider to be more dangerous. Furthermore, most of the injuries and illnesses that nurses suffer from are completely preventable. To find out more about common hazards that nurses face in St. Paul, read below.

Bloodborne pathogens

While strict requirements for using gloves and hand washing have helped nurses and other medical professionals avoid exposure to bloodborne pathogens, it still occurs. For example, needle sticks and blood splashes can expose a nurse to a dangerous pathogen.

Back, shoulder and hand injuries

Nurses often suffer injuries due to patient handling. For example, if a nurse has to lift a patient, the risk for a back injury is high. Even with the aid of other staff, a slightly wrong move or twist can result in a lower back injury that will keep a nurse out of work for days or possibly weeks. Shoulder, hand and even foot injuries can also occur due to incorrect patient lifting. Fortunately, many hospitals across the country have begun to invest in lifting devices to reduce the instances of nurse injuries.

Dermatitis

Hand hygiene practices require that medical staff use certain protocols to keep their hands clean. Unfortunately, these practices can result in severe skin damage. In some cases, the damage is so extreme that nurses have to leave the profession. Better hand protection can easily prevent skin damage that results from these protocols.

Germs

During cold and flu season, nurses have an increased risk of getting sick and, as a result, they have to take more sick days. The best thing that staff and hospitals can do is to be proactive. This means not waiting for an increase in patients suffering from the flu. If hospitals provide their staff with antiviral face masks well head of time, they can keep their nurses and other medical professionals healthy during flu and cold season.

Nurses face a significant risk of illness and injury on the job. By attending continuing education courses and taking a few proactive measures, you have a higher chance of avoiding an injury or illness. However, if you suffer from a work related injury, you might be able to file a workers' compensation claim for lost wages and medical expenses.

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