All occupations pose some type of risk to workers, but nurses have a higher exposure to various hazards. This results in injuries and illnesses that affect not only their quality of life, but also patient care.
Hazards that most nurses come across on a daily basis include physical, chemical, environmental and mental risks.
Common hazards and associated injuries and illnesses
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries and illnesses in the nursing sector result in more than 19,000 missed days of work every year. They also occur at a higher incidence rate than they do in all other occupations.
Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common injuries due to bending, twisting, excessive physical effort, repetitive motion and lifting. The next common cause of injuries are slips, trips and falls. Other causes of injuries and illnesses include violence by patients, contact with equipment and exposure to chemicals, needles, infectious diseases and radiation.
Nurses also experience a higher level of stress than many other occupations. Things that result in stress include working with terminal patients, working in fast-paced environments, making quick decisions in emergency situations and long or overnight shifts. Chronic stress can eventually result in physical symptoms such as neck pain, digestive issues, fatigue, headaches and depression.
How nursing hazards affect patients’ quality of care
The Post University American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences discusses that the hazards that nurses face not only affect them, but they can also affect patients. If nurses are working with a physical injury, they may not be as effective at their jobs. Stressful nurses may also be less caring towards patients, and burnout and job dissatisfaction can result in nursing shortages, which leads to poorer patient care outcomes.