Nurses provide necessary care to patients in all types of health care environments. Unfortunately, their jobs come with a number of risks that endanger them physically and mentally.

With the occupational hazards they encounter day in and day out, nurses suffer from a high rate of job-related illness and injury.

Nursing stats and data

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses are especially vulnerable to workplace hazards. Hospitals employ the highest percentage of nurses, and these workers have a higher injury and illness incidence rate. After hospitals, the two health care sectors in which nurses experience the most injuries and illnesses are ambulatory services and residential care facilities.

Almost 50% of the injured workers were RNs who worked for five years or more for their employers. Around 27% of all illness and injuries occurred to nurses who fell between the ages of 45 and 54.

Types of injuries and illnesses

Physical injuries are the most common, and many of them occur during routine tasks like standing, bending, walking and moving patients. Common causes of nonfatal injury include overexertion, slips and falls, violent events and contact with equipment.

According to the Sentinel Watch, another occupational hazard is exposure to infectious diseases, and common ones are tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and HIV. Nurses also have exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation. Other hazards include latex allergies and dermatitis.

Nurses also experience a high level of stress in their jobs. Between stressful situations and long shifts, these can cause fatigue, burnout, depression and physical stress reactions such as headaches, back pain and gastrointestinal issues.