While healthcare workers are some of the most trusted and beloved professionals, the physical aspect of the job increases the risk of serious injury. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, nurses’ risk for back injury is six times higher than other professions. In fact, nurses along with other medical workers are at highest risk for herniated intervertebral discs and musculoskeletal disorders.
Whether you are a nurse or work in another healthcare profession, it is important to realize the types of challenges that can cause injuries. It is also critical to know what you can do to prevent an injury from occurring.
What are the risk factors?
There are several activities that nurses engage in during a regular work day that increase the risk for back injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consistent heavy lifting and repositioning of patients can cause nurses to work in often awkward positions. This can cause the back to twist or jam. Lifting and moving patients that are overweight is a problem, as more and more Americans are obese. Long 12-hour shifts and back-to-back work days can make overused muscles weak and heightens the risk of injury as well.
Serious injuries can infringe on a nurse’s ability to continue working in the field. Issues developed over time may require surgical operations, therapy and make it impossible to continue working in a similar position within the healthcare field.
Are there preventatives?
There are things you can do to minimize your risk of becoming injured at work. Make sure you exercise regularly and take frequent breaks to stretch out your muscles during the work day. Lift weights to strengthen muscles that you use daily.
If you feel tired or weak, try not to overdo it. Let a manager know how you are feeling so you can avoid obtaining an injury. Do not let someone ask you to do something that is unsafe. Get plenty of sleep and practice proper self-care. Practice good lifting mechanics.