The risk of illness for nurses is greater than that of the average worker. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses historically have a higher rate of on-the-job injuries.

Nurses may work in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, home health care services and nursing homes. However, the majority of nurses (61%) work in hospitals, which have a higher incidence of work-related illnesses and injuries. In 2016, 74.1% of nursing injuries and illnesses occurred in hospitals.

Serious illness is a potential threat

Nurses frequently face exposure to viruses and contagions in their workplaces. While proper sanitation and physical protections can reduce the risk of illness, some situations put nurses in high danger.

According to the data, nurses suffer a much higher percentage of injuries and illness caused by other people or animals. Across all jobs, the rate is 4.2%, but for RNs, it is 12.2%. Patients are the primary source of all nursing injuries and illnesses.

Nursing calls for strenuous physical labor

Nurses often work long, difficult hours – especially in a hospital or nursing home setting. Overexertion causes the most nonfatal work injuries, affecting 33.7% of all workers. However, the rate of overexertion and bodily reaction injuries for RNs is 45.6%.

Repeatedly bending, twisting and lifting can also take a toll on nurses’ bodies. Repetitive movements and physical exertions, particularly when it comes to moving patients, put nurses at high risk. Back and neck injuries, arthritis and other physical conditions may be a result of fulfilling job requirements.

Seeking solutions

According to Nursing Open, education, policies and procedures and collaboration can contribute to lowering the risks for nurses. Furthermore, nurses need to have the proper safety equipment, which may include gloves, masks and sanitation supplies. Overcoming barriers due to staffing, time pressures, knowledge and the availability of equipment can also help build a culture of safety.