According to the recent surveys by the World Health Organization and
its various member nation’s Department of Labor statistics reveal that occupational related injuries account for nearly 4 million recorded cases of nonfatal work related musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses that occurred in the workplace during the last decade.
The most frequent types of single occupational related injuries reported and collated by labor statistics were sprains, strains, muscle tears, bruises, contusion, fractures, soreness and inflammation, back injuries, traumatic amputations and cases of tendinitis. Moreover, injuries affecting the upper extremities, specifically the hands and the wrists generally account for the greatest number of lost work days. People who have the greatest risk of occupational risk related injuries and lost work days are usually those who are actively predisposed to environmental risk factors due to the nature of their work such as farmers, general contractors, steelworkers, autoworkers, truck drivers and health care staff members.
Occupational related injuries among nursing personnel
Nursing is consistently ranked among the top ten occupations that are most involved in occupational related injuries and lost work days. Whereas the rates of other occupation related injuries have tended to decrease over the past decade, the rates of injuries among all nursing personnel including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses and unlicensed assistive personnel have exponentially increased in the past few years. Most of these injuries have occurred during patient handling and movement activities. Traditional, non-evidenced based methods to prevent musculoskeletal injuries among nursing personnel during patient handling and moving have revolved around training sessions on proper body mechanics and safe lifting of patients with the use of assistive devices.
Implications regarding occupational related injuries among health care personnel
Findings of various studies indicate that nursing personnel who work in various health institutions reveal that a majority of nurses may have had experienced increased work responsibilities, increased patient perception, more unfilled nursing positions, heavier workloads and increased “floating” responsibilities which was tantamount to greater likelihood of experiencing back pains, shoulder stiffness, neck pains more than any other health care professional within the same span of time. Nurses must advocate for improved staffing methodologies and efficient workloads to avoid injuries and preserve their own livelihood and health.
Risk factors of occupational related injuries in the health care facility
Characteristics that increase the potential risk factors for occupational work injuries include recurring episodes of back pain resulting from incorrect practice of proper body mechanics, insufficient training level, decreased physical strength, height, obesity, low mood and posture. Since occupational related injuries have multiple causes and influence, a multifaceted prevention approach should be adopted by healthcare institutions by starting with identifying potential risk factors and assessing susceptibility. Often times, the high risk is associated with increased physical workload in lifting and moving patients which involves awkward bending, twisting and reaching movements when rendering patient care. The best way to protect oneself from occupational related injuries is to practice proper body mechanics as well as the use of assistive devices while prudently taking the necessary steps to promote effective care as well as protective oneself from undue injuries.