If someone asked you to list the most dangerous occupations in Virginia, you might name jobs like construction workers, miners, or utility workers. These are all jobs where the safety risks are open and obvious to anyone. But you might not think of nursing to be an equally–if not more–dangerous occupation than those other jobs.
Yet a number of studies have detailed how nursing has more injuries than other workplaces. Certainly within the healthcare field, nurses are the group that sustain the most work-related injuries. According to a nine-year study of healthcare workers, researchers found that “injury incidences were significantly higher in nurses” than other groups such as doctors or housekeeping personnel. Indeed, the study found that 48 percent–nearly half–of all injured healthcare workers were nurses.
What Are the Biggest Safety Risks Facing Virginia’s Nurses
So why is nursing so dangerous? As with any large-scale problem there are many causes. But here are a few of the more prominent ones that we see in our Virginia workers’ compensation practice:
- Patient Handling Injuries: Nurses commonly suffer overexertion injuries, such as muscle sprains and strains, while handling and transporting patients. Simply moving a patient from a toilet back to their bed can lead to an overexertion industry. Such injuries can be minimized, however, by using patient handling devices such as lifts.
- Workplace Violence: Each year, thousands of nurses are injured due to acts of workplace violence, usually at the hands of patients. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only made this problem worse, as more patients started taking out their anger and grief on frontline hospital staff such as nurses.
- Infectious Diseases: COVID-19 also highlighted another key reason nurses are more prone to involuntarily missing time from work than other professions–exposure to infectious diseases. Even before COVID, the nature of the healthcare workplace exposed nurses to all manners of viruses and pathogens. And far too many healthcare workplaces do not maintain proper hygiene and infection control protocols to prevent potential outbreaks.
- Tripping Hazards: Healthcare workplaces are often a hive of constant activity. And given that nurses are always moving about, they are at much higher risk of suffering routine trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall injuries relative to workers who spend most of their workday behind a desk.
- Chemical Exposure: Working in healthcare means exposure to a wide range of potentially poisonous and carcinogenic chemicals, such as ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, nitrous oxide, and glutaraldehyde. Improper handling and disposal of these chemicals in a healthcare setting can lead to serious health issues for exposed nurses and other staff.
Contact Injured Workers’ Law Firm Today
Like all Virginia employees, nurses have certain rights under state workers’ compensation law when they suffer an on-the-job injury or occupational illness. If you want to learn more about those rights, download our free ebook or call the Injured Workers’ Law Firm directly at (804) 755-7755 to schedule an initial consultation with a member of our staff.