Nurses play an important role in the healthcare industry. Not only do they provide health services and care, but they also offer educational services to promote public health.
Nurses, however, face a number of hazards during daily operations, which leads to an increase in workplace injuries and illnesses.
Injury and illness stats
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of injuries and illnesses occur among nurses who work in a hospital setting. Those working in ambulatory healthcare services have the next highest percentage of injuries, followed by nursing care facilities and other facilities.
Nurses who worked for the same employer for longer than five years experienced more days away from work due to work-related injuries. Those aged 45 and older experienced more and more serious, injuries than those 44 years of age and younger.
Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common injury among nurses, with strains and sprains occurring most frequently. The causes of these occur during routine duties such as lifting, twisting, bending, physical effort and repetitive actions. Slips, trips and falls are the next most common followed by violent events, either by patients or family members of patients.
Mental health issues are also becoming more common. These are due to increased workloads, stressful environments and long work shifts.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information discusses that, previously, common strategies to prevent musculoskeletal injuries included the use of back belts, body mechanics classes and safe lifting training. However, evidence shows these are not effective. Alternatively, more facilities are switching to evidence-based practices such as:
- No-lift policies
- Teams for patient lifting
- Equipment for patient handling
- Training on patient handling devices and equipment
To combat mental health issues, some proposed strategies include techniques to help workers cope better with stress and organizational interventions to reduce the stressors.