Nursing is a meaningful, essential field. However, as rewarding as the job is, it also comes with several risks including occupational hazards. Nurses and those interested in working in the health care arena should familiarize themselves with the potential workplace dangers in order to avoid injury.
The more precautions taken, the better equipped nurses will be to stay healthy and safe from accidents.
Common physical dangers for nurses include working in awkward positions and the heavy manual lifting when repositioning patients or moving obese patients. Nurses also deal with standing and walking for a significant amount of time during their work shifts. All of these activities and movements may cause musculoskeletal disorders.
Depending on the patient population nurses work with, they may be around people in emergency rooms, geriatric units and the psychiatric ward. Nurses may encounter workplace violence more so than other healthcare workers. These rogue patients might cause minor and serious physical injuries, psychological trauma and even death.
In the workplace, nurses are also exposed to other dangers including latex allergies, infectious diseases, radiation exposure, dermatitis from hand hygiene and chemical exposure. Nurses helping treat patients fighting pathogens such as MRSA, tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis B face exposure themselves. These blood-borne microbes may transfer to the nurse’s body if there is a needle stick injury.
Emergency room nurses and those working in the radiology department may have a higher exposure to radiation. Chemicals nurses might work with, such as chemotherapy drugs and sterilizing agents, have significant health risks.
Additionally, if the nurse is wearing gloves while working and he or she is allergic to latex, an allergic reaction may result causing symptoms from dermatitis to severe anaphylaxis.
The more precautions nurses take in the workplace, the lower the risk of physical dangers and chemical hazards they will encounter. Following proper procedures for handling sharp objects, dealing with chemicals, lifting and moving patients and wearing personal protective equipment will help prevent occupational accidents.
Sometimes even after taking all the necessary steps to try and reduce risks at work, injuries still happen. Work-related injuries qualify the nurse to file for workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical coverage and recover lost wages.