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Occupational hazards faced by nurses

If you count yourself among the many people across California who make a living working as a nurse, you probably understand all too well that your job places you at risk for aches, pains and numerous other career-specific hazards. Nursing can be one of the most rewarding professions out there, giving you a chance to make a measurable impact on the lives of others. However, it is also an inherently dangerous way to earn a living, with the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health noting that many nurses report higher-than-typical rates of injury and illness.

Just what types of specific hazards do you face as a nurse?

Persistent, job-related aches and pains

As a nurse, chances are, you spend long hours on your feet, and you may, too, regularly engage in heavy lifting as you move patients, hospital beds and medical equipment. Doing so can lead to persistent aches and pains in your neck, back, shoulders, legs and knees, with nurses reporting knee and lower back pain at higher rates than other types of injuries.

On-the-job violence

Hospitals, and, in particular, emergency rooms, are also dangerous work environments for nurses, many of whom report experiencing violence and aggression from patients. Nearly 13 percent of nurses report being victims of physical violence on the job, and more than 50 percent of nurses report experiencing verbal abuse while on the job.

Exposure to potentially harmful substances or illnesses

While treating patients who have diseases or conditions that might include tuberculosis or staph infections, among others, presents inevitable dangers for nurses, your risk of catching these conditions from patients increases considerably if you or your employer fail to employ appropriate safety measures. As a nurse, you also run the risk of exposing yourself to a bloodborne pathogen when you inject or draw blood, or when you suture a wound of someone carrying such a condition.

Nursing is a highly dangerous occupation, and while these are some of the more common risks and hazards faced by today’s nurses, please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all associated dangers.

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