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5 Ways for Nurses to Prevent on the Job Injuries

Nursing is a dangerous occupation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, hospitals, ambulatory health care services, and nursing care facilities were number three among the top eight workplaces for nonfatal injuries. Those injuries came in many forms like cuts, needle jabs, back injuries, wrist sprains, ankle/foot injuries, and burns. The really striking thing about these injuries is that most of them were preventable. With a bit of thinking and some common sense, it is possible to prevent and avoid job injuries. Here are five ways to do it:

Use Good Body Mechanics

One of the main reasons nurses injure their back is trying to lift patients or heavy objects improperly. Bending the knees and lifting with the legs is far preferable to lifting with the back. Keeping the back in a neutral position and hinging from the hips instead of bending over are also important in keeping the back in good shape. One option is to work with a physical therapist to learn proper body mechanics and how to lift patients properly.

Stay in Good Physical Shape

Maintaining good health and exercising is critical for avoiding injuries of all sorts. Exercise should include strength training, flexibility, and core stability. As most physical therapist assistants know, this will lower the chances of injury because the body will be ready for lifting and shifting. Staying at a healthy weight is also important. When lifting and shifting patients, excess weight is a hindrance. Excess weight can shift the center of gravity. When this shift occurs, a person naturally compensates by using the body in ways that are not safe.

Wear Good Shoes

Investing in good shoes needs to be a priority for anyone in the nursing profession. Ankle and foot injuries most often happen because of poor shoe foundation. Trying to make do with cheap shoes will lead to injuries that are preventable. Standing on hard floors through a routine shift can stress the back. Running to handle emergencies put even more stress on the back and the legs. Good shoes can lessen this stress by cushioning the legs and feet.

Slow Down

Many injuries happen because a nurse is in a hurry. While there is often a need to get too much done in a short time, slowing down for certain situations will reduce the chances of injury. For example, many nurses sustain back injuries doing patient transfers. Instead of waiting for a second person or using transfer boards, they try to do it themselves unassisted because it saves times. It also increases the chance of back injuries significantly. Slow down around sharps to avoid needle jabs and cuts. Slow down when handling hot sterilization equipment to avoid burns.

Get Help

Many nurses don't ask for help to do tasks obviously needing two people. It may be due to time constraints or not having someone immediately available. But, getting help with certain tasks, like patient transfers, will reduce the amount of injuries they sustain. The bottom line is to be aware of the current situation. Getting in a rush or refusing to get help is a sure way to invite injury. Maintaining physical health, wearing the right shoes, and using the body correctly is the other part of this equation. For those who want to enter the nursing profession, being aware of the potential for injury is important. When going to school, pay attention to what your instructors are saying. They often impart practical advice in their lectures. With the high incident of injury in healthcare, this topic will come up at some point.