Before you became a nurse, you probably considered the workplace hazards that come with the job. After all, nursing, like firefighting and law enforcement, is high up on the list of most dangerous occupations nationwide, including Missouri. Some people say nursing is a calling, a job meant for a special kind of person because of the multiple work-related hazards with which they deal daily.
Workplace hazards for nurses go beyond health risks. Your job also exposes you to musculoskeletal disorders, the threat of assault and abuse, environmental threats, allergies, physical and emotional stress, and more.
Strict safety procedures can protect you from the following hazards:
- Working with people who have infections like hepatitis B, MRSA, tuberculosis and other diseases will expose you to life-threatening illnesses.
- Puncture wounds by contaminated needles and other sharp items pose multiple risks. Safety authorities say approximately 800,000 needle stick injuries occur nationwide each year.
- Along with following safety protocols without fail, you must make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
The list of physical hazards is almost endless. The following risks are most notable:
- Your work environment will always expose you to slips, trips and falls due to the prevalence of spills, drainage issues and randomly placed objects.
- Muscular injuries, strains and sprains are par for the course in nursing, and such injuries could cause long-term health problems and chronic pain. It could also affect your patient care abilities.
- Violence is an ever-growing threat in medical facilities, not only from patients but also from their loved ones.
Never disregard the safety standards that are in place to protect you.
Traumatic events and situations likely form part of every shift you work. While you might think you are strong enough to deal with anything, take note of the following risks:
- While you deal with loss and trauma all the time, the emotional trauma escalates even if you are unaware of it. This can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Sleep deprivation can lead to acute stress, especially if you work night shifts.
Arrange for time off and see a counselor as soon as you become aware of emotional distress.
Look out for complacency when you work with dangerous chemicals, and remain aware of the following:
- Always protect yourself from exposure to sterilizing agents, chemotherapy drugs and other hazardous materials.
- Avoid an overburdened or rushed feeling when you handle chemicals -- an accident can happen in the blink of an eye.
Slow down to be safe.
Who will have your back?
With the variety of hazards that threaten your safety at your workplace, it might be a good idea to learn about your rights to compensation in the event of a workplace injury. The Missouri workers' compensation insurance system will have your back, and help is available with the benefits claims process, which can be daunting. An attorney with experience in helping injured workers to obtain maximum benefits under applicable state laws can be an invaluable source of support and guidance.