According to the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH), workers in the healthcare field suffer more from nonfatal injuries and illnesses than workers in any other industry. Injuries are wide-ranging and include needle stick wounds, back strains, allergic reactions to latex, injury from patients’ violent acts, and stress-related health issues.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that each year, approximately 80,000 nurses, therapists and aides are injured while on the job. Sprains, strains, and muscular tears make up the largest proportion of these injuries, representing approximately 43%. Soreness and pain, especially back pain, were reported as the cause of 11% of injuries.
Take a minute to review our safety tips to keep yourself in tiptop health. Don’t let yourself be “counted” in this year’s injury statistics!
- Lift right. When lifting patients or heavy loads, be sure to bend at your knees so you’re tapping the strength of your legs and not straining your back. You know the old saying, “lift with your legs, not with your back.” Be sure to follow this tried-and-true method.
- Get centered. Keep objects or patients that you are lifting close to your midsection or center of gravity.
- Have some sole. Wear good shoes with solid support. Prolonged standing and walking on hard floors puts stress on the back. Wearing comfortable shoes that absorb shock is critical.
- Stay sharp. Even though you may use knives, needles or sutures every day, make an effort to give them the attention they are due. If handled in a rush or while you are distracted, they can cause you—and even a patient—injury.
- Shape up. Get or stay in good physical shape. Healthcare professionals who maintain muscle strength, flexibility and normal weight are less likely to get hurt.
- Break things up. If your position requires a large amount of typing, writing or repetitive motion, take short breaks, give yourself a quick hand massage, or use an ice pack if an area becomes sore.
- Slow down when carrying or using anything hot. If you do get burned, depending on the extent of the injury, don’t ignore it! Provide immediate self-care by rinsing with cold water, applying ice, using antibacterial ointment and applying a bandage.
What techniques have you found effective for staying safe on the job? Share your own tips in the comment section below!