Virginia’s registered nurses provide the critical backbone for the Commonwealth’s health care system. But nurses are also employees who spend long hours working in environments that contain many significant safety risks and health hazards. So it should come as no surprise that thousands of nurses are injured or exposed to occupational illnesses each year simply as a result of performing their daily duties.
A 2018 study published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identified the most common types of nonfatal nursing injuries in hospital and other healthcare workplaces. The “most prevalent” events leading to a workplace injury involved overexertion and bodily reaction. For example, a nurse spraining their back while trying to lift or move a patient would qualify as an overexertion and bodily reaction. These types of injuries accounted for about 46 percent of all events reviewed in the BLS study. The second most common cause was slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents, which accounted for about 25 percent of all reported injury events.
4 Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself On the Job
While it is impossible to avoid all workplace injuries, there are concrete steps that nurses can take to minimize their risk and exposure to hazards. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Use Patient Transfer Devices: One way to prevent overexertion industries when moving or transporting patients is to use an appropriate patient transfer device such as a lift. Many nurses eschew this additional step because it often takes additional time to obtain and set up the device properly. But it is often worth it to avoid a nursing injury that can leave a healthcare worker out of commission for several weeks or months.
- Keep a Hazard-Free Work Environment: Nurses spend most of the day moving about a busy patient care floor. It is therefore critical that the floor is kept free of clutter and obstructions that can cause a tripping accident. Nurses should be proactive in clearing any hazards they see during their work day, or promptly calling janitorial or support staff to handle more complex obstructions.
- Wear the Right Equipment: A good pair of supportive work shoes is often the best investment that a nurse can make to help prevent on-the-job injuries. Wearing the right shoe can minimize the risk of an unexpected slip-and-fall accident. It can also help you minimize overall pain and discomfort as you are moving about during a shift.
- Get Help When You Need It: An often overlooked cause of nursing injuries is patient violence. Some patients are simply too out of control for a single nurse to handle. So it is important for nurses to get help from their colleagues and other staff when dealing with an unruly and potentially violent patient.
Contact the Injured Workers’ Law Firm Today
Again, even if you do everything “by the book” as a nurse, some injuries are still inevitable. So if you are injured on the job, it is important to seek legal advice and representation from an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer. Call the Injured Workers’ Law Firm today at (804) 755-7755 to schedule an initial consultation. You can also download our free ebook explaining your rights under Virginia workers’ compensation law.