Reducing safety risks is key to preventing nursing injuries

As a nurse, you may already know that one of the highest risks to your safety is from lifting patients. Lifting patients who are under sedation can mean that the patient provides you with no help; that could be hundreds of pounds of weight that you have to support with little assistance. Your neck, shoulders, back and other areas of the body could be strained from working with heavier patients or from repetitive motion injuries over the course of the day.

Even if you perform your lifts correctly, there's still a risk to you. The strain of lifting still impacts the spine, even if you're in proper alignment when you lift a patient. Due to the distance the nurse has to be from a patient on a bed, the nurse can't hold the weight close to the body, which creates a risk of injury. Bending to carry a person distributes weight differently, placing pressure on the spine's discs. Finally, repeating these motions can lead to disk deterioration and scar tissue from tears in the plates of the spine.

So, how can workplace injuries be prevented for nursing staff members? The safest way to move forward is to teach safe lifting practices and to use mechanical lift-assistance equipment. It can be expensive to purchase this equipment, but when you compare the cost of the equipment to the expense of nurses who can no longer work and who need to be on workers' compensation, the cost is negligible.

Supporting a nursing staff provides stability in the workplace, creates a safer work environment and helps keep down workers' compensation costs. Those who are hurt can seek workers' compensation, but with more safety precautions in place, the goal is to reduce and eliminate on-the-job injuries.

Source: Healthcare Busines & Technology, "No. 1 threat to your nurses: Injuries from lifting patients," Jess White, accessed Nov. 15, 2016

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