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Nurses need protection from strains, slips, falls too

Nursing is a dangerous profession. Nurses and other hospital employees work with infectious people, handle sharp objects that may have been exposed to blood-borne pathogens and work with equipment that uses radiation or dangerous chemicals. In this setting, injuries from strains, slips and falls may not seem very important.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls, trips and slips account for 27 percent of lost-time claims by nurses, second only to the 46 percent of injuries caused by strains, usually by lifting a patient.

73 percent from strains, slips, falls

When measuring what causes hospital workers to take a day away from work, OSHA finds that 73 percent of missed days come from strains, slips and falls. Specifically:

  • 48 percent are the result of overexertion, such as strains from lifting a patient
  • 25 percent are from slips, trips and falls
  • 13 percent are from contact with objects like needles or falling bricks
  • 9 percent are the result of working with a violent patient
  • 4 percent are from exposure to substances
  • 1 percent is from other causes.

Missed days from work cost money

When an employee loses a day of work, it affects the organization because the missing shifts have to be filled with temporary workers – hard to do with a skilled worker like a nurse – or through changing shifts or having employees work overtime. Injuries over time can add to stress and burnout, which decreases productivity and ultimately leads to an employee who quits the job. Employee turnover not only leads to hiring and training costs but also the loss of institutional memory and on-the-job experience.

All these scenarios take money from the hospital’s bottom line, which makes it worth their while to keep strains, slips and falls to a minimum.

Nurse workers comp may be underreported

Interestingly although understandably, when a hospital employee is injured on the job, they often are treated on-site. Since some hospitals are self-insured, state and federal offices might not hear of the incident unless a report is filed.

To apply for worker’s compensation, an injured worker has four days to notify the employer in writing of any injury, even if the injury is not life or limb threatening. Not doing so could jeopardize a worker’s compensation claim.

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